Friday, January 11, 2013

Crain Communications releases new tablet edition for its B2B title Business Insurance

A new B2B tablet edition used to be a rare event, but things are starting to heat up. Crain Communications, which recently released a tablet edition for Crain's Chicago Business, today launched a tablet edition for its trade industry magazine Business Insurance.

Business Insurance Tablet Edition is an iPad edition that gives the reader a hybrid tablet edition – one where the print ads are pretty much as you would see them in print, but where the editorial pages are reformatted for the tablet.
The design is still somewhat influenced by print, as you will see in the walk-through video below, but the digital magazine is very readable and will be appreciated by those who are loyal readers of the B2B magazine.

Business Insurance is a BPA-audited weekly that has a little over 35,000 qualified non-paid subscribers and over 9,000 qualified paid subscribers. So the dilemma here is how to create a weekly digital magazine, and how to charge (or if to charge) for it.

The problem for B2B publishers, as I have written about before (so sorry to be repeating myself), is that there is no qualification method available to publishers. If Apple would hire me today to be their publisher liaison (do it!) I would be working with the B2B guys on creating a qualification mechanism that would encourage B2B publisher to launch their qualified circulation magazine on the iOS platform. Alas, there is no such mechanism today and so the trade publishing industry has been the slowest segment when it comes to launching tablet editions.

Here, with Business Insurance, Crain is letting their current subscribers log into the app to access the issues free of charge. Then new readers who want to access the issues can do so by buying an annual subscription for $149.99 (or individual issues for $9.99.)

For now the new app only contains a smallish sample issue )which is only a little over 30 MB in size) typical for apps just released into the Newsstand by Apple. I assume the app's store and library will begin to fill up with issues now that the app is live (in fact, as I am writing this, a new version of the sample issue is being loaded which is larger than the first sample as it is 183.1 MB in size – it contains a full issue with more advertising and features inside).

I should also note that while this new app is for the iPad, there is a reference on the magazine's website to interactive tablet editions for the Nexus, Kindle and Samsung Galaxy tablets, as well. I did not find an app inside Google Play this morning, but a new app may be coming very soon.

The Chicago Tribune releases new iPad photography publication using the Apple Newsstand for distribution

On Tuesday of this week TNM looked at the photography eBook produced by the staff of The Seattle Times (see post here with video walk-through). In that project, a year in review as seen in the staff's photographs, the production team used Apple's free software package iBooks Author to produce a digital book that could be updated in the future, but would be a one-time purchase for readers.

While the Seattle paper does not have a paywall on its website, it does have mobile and tablet apps (though, to be honest, they are not worth the price of admission), so it makes sense that the eBook would be seen as a separate product from the existing digital offerings of the paper.

Today, Tribune Interactive released its own photography publication – it, too, being a year in review as seen in the staff's photographs.

But in the case of the Trib, which has several digital magazines inside the Apple Newsstand, the paper has chose to go with a subscription model and continue to use the Newsstand.

Chicago Tribune Photography requires a $0.99 annual subscription - and, by the way, the single issue price is also $0.99. The pricing model, being low, means that there will be no expectations of regular issues, though that seems to be the plan.
Introducing the new Chicago Tribune Photography app. Inside each edition you’ll find the most compelling news, sports, features, portrait and pictorial photography from the Chicago Tribune's staff photographers, available now for the first time in full iPad Retina-ready resolution. – app description
While iPad Design Editor Ryan E. Smith used Mag+ (I believe) rather than iBooks Author, the basic design of the photography publication is somewhat similar to that of The Seattle Times eBook. Layouts are in landscape only (which, of course, is the way most photos taken with a DSLR will be shot).
But where in iBooks Author the reader taps a photo to make it larger, or to bring up the caption, with digital magazine design, tapping the screen brings up the page thumbnails. To access the captions one would scroll up, swiping to reach the next photograph.

Because the app supports retina display iPads, the file size of the new tablet edition is still large, over 300 MB, though that is about 200 MB smaller than The Seattle Times eBook that used iBooks Author for its creation.

Is using a digital magazine design solution a good alternative to creating an eBook? Yes, I think so. It especially makes a lot of sense when the paper producing the digital publication already has a paywall system in place.

But that is where there is a disconnect. Digital subscribers to Tribune's website or its tablet publications like Bear Download and RedEye for iPad do not automatically gain access to this new digital magazine. That is a sign that left hand doesn't know what the right hand is doing.
While not a big fan of metered paywalls, I understand that there is tremendous pressure to build the revenue enhancers. To make them work, however, a newspaper would be wise to continually create digital products for their new digital subscribers – to reinforce the idea that buying a digital subscription is a great idea.

The NYT has been especially bad at becoming what I like to call a serial launcher. Tribune Interactive, on the other hand, has launched several new and very good new digital products, this one should be part of the family of products that will justify in the minds of its readers that they should sign up for its digital subscription plans. Then charge that $0.99 fee only to non subscribers (and then they might consider raising that price a bit).

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Consumer magazine ad pages fall 8.2% in 2012, extending publisher's losing streak

The year end Publishers Information Bureau (PIB) report did not hold much good news for consumer publishers, with ad pages for 2012 ending 8.2 percent below 2011 levels. The last time publishers enjoyed a bump in ad pages was 2010 when pages eked out a small gain.

Worse, ad pages that fell dramatically at the start of the financial crisis have not recovered at all.

For the fourth quarter of 2012 ad pages fell 7.3 percent, though these numbers are always a bit skewed by magazine closures such as Los Angeles Times Magazine and Spa, among others.

Big losers in the quarter, by percentage, included Boating, Caribbean Travel & Life, The Economist, Family Circle, Natural Health, O-The Oprah Magazine, Real Simple, Saveur, Veranda and Working Mother. Magazines such as National Geographic and Martha Stewart Living, while losing a smaller percentage of ad pages, still lost the most actual pages, with huge ad page drops that will result in big losses of revenue.

The B2B report for trade publishers lags behind the PIB report by several months, with final 2012 probably to arrive in April.

The problem most magazine publishers face is that ad page losses are compounding, with losses occurring in most years in the last decade. Since 2008, consumer publishers have seen their ad pages drop by over 30 percent.

The PIB also reports revenue as part of its research, though as a publisher I have always found the data far less reliable.

Media App Updates: TRVL issues update as it refines its own publishing platform; NYT updates both its iPhone and iPad apps; bug fix updates for Next Issue and CNN

This afternoon several media app updates were released by Apple into the App Store, including the much anticipated update to TRVL, the independent travel photography magazine that is now using its own platform, PRSS, to create its app.

The app now features 87 free magazines, the newest one centers on Prague.

In order to make the move over to its own platform from off the Woodwing/Adobe solution, TRVL had to redesign all its existing magazines – at the time 80 different travel subjects.

"We could only test our app the minute we've actually gone live. We designed 80 magazines in the four days before we've gone live," Michel Elings told TNM back in November.

The update brings the app up to version 3.1. Here is what the publisher says in the app description about the update:
What's New in Version 3.1
★ Extremely fast
★ Runs smooth on all iPads
★ Newsstand works like a charm
★ Cover update
★ Filters (pull down in the store to reveal)
★ Easier way to make magazines available for offline reading
★ Photo books are easier to find

☂ Smooth animations
☂ Lot's of bug fixes
I don't know if those fancy symbols will work in your browser, but they really are from the app description!

The New York Times updated both its main mobile app, NYTimes, and its tablet edition, NYTimes for iPad, this afternoon.

In addition to bug fixes, the update adds search and live blog auto update support.

Next Issue Media today updated its iPad app, which here we will simply call Next Issue rather than its official long name.

The update "addresses issues reported in the latest release, including fixing a problem where some users experienced missing cover images. Also reduces crashes."

Also updating their iPad app to fix bugs was CNN. There app is called blandly CNN App for iPad.

BevNet uses a replica solution to create its first tablet edition; pricing policy is contradictory and a bit mysterious

Following lunch I looked at my Twitter and found a vendor promoting a new app inside the Apple App Store for its client – and good thing since finding newly released digital magazines inside the store has been made more difficult by Apple's strange new redesign.

Having said that, there are times when one looks at a new tablet edition and the immediate thought that comes to mind is that you wish you had talked to the publisher before hand and asked them "do you really want to do this?"

The new app, BevNet Magazine, is good contrast to the new app released yesterday for Beverage World from Macfadden Communications. That app, seen here, used the Mag+ platform to create a hybrid app, where the print ads from the magazine appeared untouched, but the editorial pages were reformatted to produce a digital magazine that would be easier to read on the iPad. Additionally, Macfadden's digital team decided that the way to handle the issue of qualified circulation was to release the app as a free app where anyone interested in the content could download issues for free, subscribing only as a way to get the future issues to download automatically.

Bevnet Magazine, on the other hand, has built its ad using Tapedition. What this results in is a replica edition of the print magazine, unchanged in any way I could see from the print magazine. Another decision that was made was to charge for issues and subscriptions – well, sort of, as you will see.

According to the app description individual issues are to be available for $3.99 per issue, with an annual subscription available for $19.99. But the app has a "Buy" button for the one issue to be found inside the app, but no price. Tapping that button results in the issue downloading without the usual dialogue box that comes up confirming the purchase. Also, there is no price shown. (How this app got through Apple is a mystery.)

When I saw that the download was starting I had to wonder if I had been charged for the magazine (I hadn't). Was this December meant to be a sample issue? Who knows, this app is all doesn't say much, including how big the download that was occurring would be.

It turns out it was 234 MB, a rather huge size for a 68 page replica edition.

The only thing that might explain why this tablet edition is so large is its pop-up ads. Yes, like the app seen yesterday, Philly Beer Scene, this app has pop-up ads that obnoxiously show up every few pages. In fact, they are the exact ads as you can see below.

One might be surprised that a publisher would allow this to happen to their magazine, but after all these years I guess nothing surprises me anymore. But all I can say is "really, you want this?"
Left: the library/store page where there is a buy button, but no prices; Middle: the pop-up ad that shows up every few pages; Right: the layouts reveal that this is most definitely a replica edition.

Amazon's new AutoRip plan shouldn't run into trouble from the labels due to its limitations

The online retailer today unveiled a new MP3 program for buyers of CDs on its website. Called AutoRip the program gives buyers an MP3 version of their just-purchased CD that is available immediately.

The program is a logical move in a market where many buyers are choosing to buy MP3 downloads rather than physical CDs, causing CD sales to decline. The idea that would be attractive to the record labels is that the CD generally costs more so the purchase ends up being an upsell.

The key to the whole venture, though, is that not all CDs are eligible, only those music titles where already offers a choice between buying physical media and an MP3 download.

According to the Amazon site that is about 37,500 titles.

Because the record label has already approved selling an MP3 version of the CD, there should be no opposition from labels (and likely the move was discussed in advance with the major labels).

Will this lead to more CD sales? Probably a bit. Most people already know how to rip their own music, but the offer does offer some convenience.

The real winner here, though, would be Amazon's cloud player system. Amazon Cloud Player competes head-on with Apple's iCloud – but Apple, of course, does not sell physical CDs. So now buyers of music at, whether buying MP3s or CDs, would now have access to their music through Cloud Player.

Amazon's Cloud Player is free for anyone buying music through the online retailer, but the storage is only 250 songs imported directly from the user own library. The price for Cloud Player Premium is $24.99 per year.

But if you buy all your music through Amazon, which surely the retailer would prefer, all those songs would be stored in your Cloud Player account regardless whether you have upgraded to Premium or not.

The one advantage Apple's iTunes still has is that in some limited cases, an MP3 purchase from iTunes comes with a digital booklet included, one where the buyer can print out their own jewel case material. Amazon one ups this by offering a physical CD with its original booklet – though at CD prices, of course.

Update: Around the time this story was posted I received an email from Amazon about past purchases and the AutoRip program – no doubt thousands of other customers of the retail received a similar email. Upon clicking the email about 500 additional songs I had purchased in the past few years were automatically added to Amazon Cloud Player, in addition to the 250 or so songs I already had there from more recent purchases. I would guess that this move will encourage more users of Amazon's online music player, as well as new downloads of the Amazon Cloud Player for iPhone.

Condé Nast, having shuttered Gourmet's print product in 2009, now said to be killing off its iPad app

There is a good way to tell if an app is dead: when, if ever, has it been updated? Take TNM's own iPhone app, it's as dead as a doornail, waiting to be replaced as soon as I finally decide I have something I like. (I've come close a few times to launching a new one.)

Gourmet Live, the iPad app that was launched by Condé Nast as some sort of compensation to the thousands of Gourmet readers upset with the company's decision to shutter the print magazine, has not been updated since February of last year. It won't be updated any time soon, apparently.

Keith Kelly at the NY Post wrote about the decision yesterday, but other than repostings of his story, nothing official has come out of Condé Nast. Even the website is pretty silent on the matter.

But owners of the app have known for a while that the end was near. In addition to the lack of updates, the app itself has been buggy and without any new material in some time.

With new food publications launching inside the Newsstand almost weekly, including Honest Cooking's own new tablet magazine, it is hard to see how this brand could survive. While the company points to its website for Gourmet, readers of the old magazine know that the publisher's heart simply isn't in it.

But you won't see Condé Nast selling off the brand to another media company. Most observer thought, back in 2009 when the publisher killed off the print title, that the reason for the decision was entirely aimed at making room in the market for the company's other food title Bon Appétit.

The lesson here is not that tablet apps can't make it, it is that products without their own sales and editorial staffs can't make it – a mistake media owners continue to make with shocking regularity.

Here is a trip down memory lane, the original promotional video for the Gourmet Live app, as seen in June of 2010:

Morning Brief: App developers discover Apple has locked their screenshots; health emergency declared in Boston due to the flu, as confirmed cases grow nationally

Apple yesterday posted a notice telling developers that their screenshots would be locked in at the time an app was approved. The move was initiated to stop a scam happening when less-than-honest developers of iOS games were switching screenshots in order to lure downloads.

One developer has already started a thread in the developer forums believing, at first, that his lack of ability to edit his screenshots was a bug, only to be told of the new policy.

But it appears that the policy may not effect Newsstand apps, if the messages I have received are accurate. Issue covers can, of course, be replaced, as they are submitted through a different process than screenshots of inside pages, but it may be that Apple is allowing an exception for Newsstand apps. (Of course, not all media apps reside in the Newsstand.)

(Some developers use placeholder screenshots such as the one seen at right for the newly released app Midwest Black Hair. Then, after the app is approved and issues are brought into the new app, screenshots from the newest issue are submitted inside the developer website, replacing the placeholder.)

Nonetheless, many iOS developers are still complaining about declining app sales since the introduction of iOS 6 and the redesigned App Store. One developer, posting inside the Apple developer forums, said he believes that the cause of the drop in sales is tied to the way search results inside the App Store are displayed and the lack of a New Release section (or "All") that makes finding the latest released apps nearly impossible. (Not all the changes seen in the U.S. App Store have been implemented in the various international App Stores, however.)

Google's flu chart & map show the growing number of confirmed cases of the flu nationally.
The major of Boston yesterday declared a health emergency as cases of the flu inundated city hospitals. Over 700 confirmed cases of the flu have been reported in the city, compared with only 70 last year.

Google maintains a chart of the number of cases reported of the flu nationally, as well as a map that shows the states where the cases have been reported – the map is now entirely red.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Apple developer site posts notice stating that app screenshots will get locked in once an app is approved

For a number of media companies, today's move by Apple could be of vital importance to understand. Beginning today, Apple says that app screenshots will be locked in iTunes Connect once the app has been approved.

The move is being made to prevent app game scams where the developer uses one set of screenshots while the app is going through the approval process, and another set once the app has made it into the App Store.

Beginning January 9, app screenshots will be locked in iTunes Connect once your app has been approved. New screenshots may be uploaded when you submit a binary for an update to an existing app or a new app. For more information on capturing and using screenshots, read the Xcode User Guide.
It is assumed that this won't effect app icons that get updated inside Newsstand as new issues are submitted.

But quite a number of digital publishing vendors routinely submit generic screenshots of either the app's splash page, or a back issue, when first submitting an app for approval. Then, once the app has gone live and the publisher makes issues go live screenshots from the live issues are substituted.

An app like EN – The magazine for Entrepreneurs, for instance, contains screenshots for both the iPad and iPhone version, but only one for the iPhone app, presumably because until the app goes live one wouldn't have real screenshots to display. But now that the app is live Apple's rule may prevent updating the screenshots until the app releases an update, or a new app is submitted.

Newsweek, no longer a print title, gets an app update

Tina Brown may have shuttered the print edition of Newsweek but the digital edition found inside Apple's Newsstand lives on. Today that app, Newsweek for iPad, received an update.

Besides bug fixes, the update brings an all-new design, background downloading, a redesigned library and store with larger issue covers, etc.

The app description still refers to the print edition – which is a bit sad, I suppose – and there is still reference to print subscribers being able to log-in to gain free access.

For everyone else, the price to subscribe is $2.99 per month, or $24.99 per year.

Single issue can be purchased for $4.99, unless one wants to be the "PDF Archive" issues that date from April 2010 to December 2011, in which case the price is $0.99.
The iPad version of Newsweek is very much native (which makes sense since there is no print edition to provide the model for a replica). Animation is kept to a minimum and the small amount of video found is housed outside the app. The issues do support retina display iPads, but the latest issue still only weighs in at just over 160 MB.

When explaining her decision to shutter the print edition of the magazine, Tina Brown talked about the financial dynamics of print and the rise of tablets.

"...when it comes to print, some realities cannot be ignored," Brown wrote to readers. "It costs $42 million a year to manufacture, print, distribute, and manage the circulation of Newsweek. Was that any longer the wise use of scarce resources, we had to ask ourselves—all the more insistently after the supportive print ad dollars fell off a cliff across the entire industry in the spring of 2011. After all, an electronic Newsweek could be delivered swiftly and economically to millions. There are now 70 million tablet users in the U.S. alone, and a new report from comScore brings us the sobering—or exhilarating—news that two out of every five Americans now read newspapers and magazines on mobile devices. These readers, and there are more and more of them every day, simply bypass print."
We'll have to wait and see if The Daily Beast can make a go at tablet publishing with the Newsweek brand, but it should be pointed out there the advertising to be found in this week's issue is, well, sparse. And that is being generous.

In the end, all of us magazine publishers – and I still do consider myself part of that fraternity – are eager to see a tablet-only magazine filled with profitably priced display advertising. Making that happen will be the ultimate challenge for Newsweek.

Here is a brief walk-through the latest issue of the tablet-only version of Newsweek following today's app update:

Honest Cooking, the food blog that calls itself a magazine, now has its own tablet magazine for the iPad

During 2012 a definite trend in digital publishing was for web properties, such as Engadget, The Next Web and Huffington Post, to produce their own digital magazines. The idea is simple enough: the website is full of content so why not repackage that content, adding in new content in some cases, and create a digital magazine. Some web properties are distributing the new digital magazines free of charge, others are charging, and still others have a voluntary pay model where the reader can access the issues free, but can also choose to support the publication by paying for a subscription, usually a token amount.

Released today is a brand new tablet magazine from another website, Honest Cooking, a food news site edited by Kalle Bergman, someone with both freelance writing experience, as well as PR and advertising (this is important, as you will see).
Honest Cooking Magazine appears under Bergman's name in the App Store. The new digital magazine is free of charge, with no paid subscription required to access the first issue inside, though one can subscribe for free in order for future issues to download automatically. The plan is to publish the new digital magazine quarterly.

Like the tablet edition TNM wrote about this morning, Beverage World, this new tablet magazine is using the Mag+ platform platform, something that was a natural choice, according to Bergman – being that he is Swedish, and therefore familiar with the origin of Mag+ inside the publishing company Bonnier. For now, at least, the magazine is available only for the iPad.

"We are looking into other tablet formats, as well, but we starte with the iPad because it is basically the most difficult to get approved. Once you have that approved it is much easier to go to the other platforms, as well," Bergman told TNM this afternoon.

The decision to launch a digital magazine originated from the realities of blog publishing, where articles appear, and then disappear each day.

"We are powered by food bloggers," Bergman said. "The blogging world is a lot about trying to keep your content alive. Even if you write something that is super interesting, and long, and really insightful, chances are your content is going to slowly drift downward (on the website's home page) – and the life of that content dies out unless it is picked up by others and becomes viral."

"We wanted to give our contributors an opportunity to write long, in depth articles about food and wine, topics that were interesting to them, without the pressures of Internet publishing – you know, quick, dirty, tomorrow its gone from the front page and there is something else there. We wanted to give them a forum where it could live for a longer time."

But whereas other web properties have found that creating a digital magazine is an opportunity to charge for their new product, Honest Cooking's digital magazine is free.

"We see it as a free magazine," Bergman said. "We see it as a premium magazine with really interesting articles that we hope will catch people's attention and people will spend a lot of time reading this magazine. We hope this will be a source of revenue from the advertising perspective. So our online advertisers will have here an opportunity to work with us on more print-like advertisements."
Left: the new tablet magazine is ad supported; Middle: layouts are minimal, almost in the extreme, though Right: some layouts involve slightly more complex layouts.

Though built using the Mag+ platform, Honest Cooking Magazine takes a minimal approach to iPad page design. The magazine almost looks like a replica edition, in this regard, though with clearly more readable fonts and pages devoted solely to photography.

Because of this, the premiere issue inside the app is less than 100 MB in size.

"We didn't want an app that was dependent on WiFi or 3G connections. I hate that personally," Bergman said. "I really wanted it to be a magazine that I could stay in bed and read the magazine just as if it were The New York Times."

"We did a first version with animation, and sliding text boxes, and stuff like that, and we were just pissed off by using it," Bergman said with a laugh. "It just didn't add anything to the content, it just added to the technical experience."

"If we are to do animation and stuff like that the next time, it will be because it will enhance the content. If we can show how this particular wine is being made with an animation then it makes sense," Bergman said.

Macfadden releases a new iPad edition of its trade industry magazine Beverage World, built using Mag+

In April of last year the B2B media company Macfadden Communications published a tablet edition for its title Pizza Today. That iPad app (original post here), built using the Mag+ platform, was a first for the digital team headed by Michael Davis, Director of Digital Services.

Now a new tablet edition has released into the Apple Newsstand, Beverage World HD, and this app, too, uses the Mag+ platform.

The release of the app by the Apple review team most likely caught the publishing team by surprise, as only the sample issue from October is currently in the app's library. But the app description contains screenshots of the most recent issues so they will probably become available inside the app very soon.

The sample issue weighs in at 88.8 MB and is designed to be read in portrait mode as the app takes a hybrid approach. That means that the issue contains the print ads just as you would see them in the printed magazine, but the editorial pages have been reformatted for the iPad. This approach works best when there are mostly full page ads, few if any two-page spreads, and few modular (less than full page) display ads. As the added circulation is a bonus for most print advertisers, dropping ads that are not full page is size is the standard practice.

Beverage World is a BPA-audited trade magazine of 34,010 print circulation in its last audit. The magazine is also auditing its web and Twitter audience, so the latest BPA shows a total six-month average of 53,903. (This brings the audited audience up over one of its competitors who is printing 50,000 issues, but not auditing its web traffic.)

When I spoke to the editor of Pizza Today, Jeremy White, he told me the plan at Macfadden was to have the art directors at Macrfadden go to NYC to receive training with the Mag+ platform. In the case of Pizza Today that was Josh Keown. "Josh is very savvy in this department," White told me at the time.

I don't know if the company is continuing that practice, if so the art director for Beverage Today is Michelle Villas.
The big issue with B2B magazines remains qualified circulation. Whereas the print magazine is mailed to only those who are qualified to receive the issues – with each magazine making up its own qualification criteria based on the target audience it wants to present to advertisers – a tablet edition released into the Apple Newsstand is open to everyone.

Because of this, publishers have to decide whether they want to simply offer free subscriptions to anyone interested, or if they want to make everyone pay for a subscription. The third option would be to have the app only accessible to those already subscribing to the print edition. It's all very tricky, and not a very good system for B2B publishers. After all, what the publisher really wants is information on the reader, not revenue.

It has been an open question for a while about whether a publisher could charge new readers inside a Newsstand supported app, while letting existing print subscribers log into their accounts for free access. Since the print magazine is free for qualified readers, this would violate the general rule of charging for a product within the Apple system that is free outside it. My own interpretation would be that this would be OK because there is no free version of the tablet edition – and if the tablet edition is not a replica, then there is even more differentiation between the products.

In any case, Macfadden has opted to use the open-to-everyone solution here. Once the reader has downloaded and installed the iPad app they can then subscribe for free so that future issues will download automatically. If they aren't sure they want to receive the digital magazine they can access the sample issue to check it out.

Note: I was expecting to hear back from both the publisher and the head of digital at Macfadden, but that didn't happen – so it is on to other things.

Here is a short walk-through of the sample issue inside the new Beverage World HD iPad app:

Shipments of tablets to surpass notebook computers in 2013; shift may also bring a change in reading habits

Recent reports, including a new one from NPD DisplaySearch, show that shipments (or sales) of tablets will surpass those of notebook computers this year. What this means for those attempting to reach readers through either tablet editions, or through browser based publications, is most likely that new digital readers will be emerging, broadening the market for digital publications.

According to NPD DisplaySearch's Quarterly Mobile PC Shipment and Forecast Report 240 million tablets will be shipped in 2013, far surpassing the estimated 207 million estimated shipments of notebook computers. The authors of the report conclude that the "shifting market dynamics are creating the opportunity for a greater variety of choices," a threat to Apple's dominance of the market.

This emphasis on the game of market share is really of no interest to me, as the tech websites are usually obsessed with keeping the score of such things.

But what does interest me is how owners of brand new tablets will use those tablets versus the ways they have used their old PCs. For those of us who work with PCs all day long, a tablet is seen as an entertainment tool – we wouldn't think of replacing our PCs with a tablet, except maybe when traveling.
But many, many consumers have PCs that sit idle during much of the day, booted up only when the owner wants to surf the web, play games, etc. For these PC owners, a tablet is perfect replacement, lighter, quicker, and more flexible.

According to research from several digital publishing vendors, reading publications online, on a PC is the least popular platform for most people. Print still is preferred, of course, but the most popular digital format is the tablet or eReader.

With so many new tablet owners it would be expected that the market for digital magazines and newspaper would grow, this is obvious. But doesn the shift from PC to tablet also mean that the market for online publications, those being read in a browser would be reduced? Possibly not.

But for publishers that problem is that reaching the new readers will be harder than reaching early adapters that could mostly be found inside Apple's App Store. Changes to the App Store are making it harder for publishers to get their new tablet editions discovered, but the situation inside Apple's ecosystem is not much worse than inside Google Play or

Future research, I believe, should include information on how long a reader has owned their tablet and whether their reading habits might be different, whether the reader is more likely to use their tablet's browser than individual apps. We may find that late adapters may use their tablets more like their old PCs when consuming media, and less as separate devices as has been the case until now.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Two very different magazines launch iPad editions: the old media company takes a native design approach, while the independent magazine takes a replica edition approach

Two print magazine that come from very different sources have taken different approaches to launching their first iPad editions. While one might expect an old media newspaper like The News-Press from Fort Myers, Florida to use a replica edition approach; while might expect a more native approach to be used by the independent magazine Philly Beer Scene. But you'd be wrong.

First off, let me say that I tried to contact both publishing teams – with no luck. So many of the questions that I had about these apps will have to wait for answers, I'm afraid.

The new app for Philly Beer Scene, sold under the publishers name, Mat Falco, used Tapedition to create its app. Tapedition seems pretty expensive to me, especially for what you get. For $499 a month you get an app that supports Newsstand, but one wonders whether the vendor is really charging this amount.
The reason is that this app has pop-up ads, a first as far I can tell.

No one likes pop-up ads, but they are pretty hard to avoid online. But to get a pop-up ad in a digital magazine is really obnoxious. Then to get the same ugly ad (actually the colors change) every few pages of swiping is even more obnoxious. Had I drunk a few six packs of beer I might have been tempted to throw my iPad across the room.

The only thing positive to say about this new tablet edition is that it is free of charge, though I would make sure you are in a good frame of mind before opening it up. But if you are a publisher you might want to check it out if only to see what to avoid in your own tablet magazine.

Grandeur Magazine is a completely different beast. It comes from the Gannett newspaper in Fort Myers and is labeled as Volume 1, Number 1. Yet a check online reveals that the magazine used to be in print. Is it possible that this is a relaunch of this title in digital form only? Neither the newspaper's website or the magazine itself gives one a clue.
Unlike the beer magazine, however, this upscale title uses native tablet techniques such as scrolling within stories and swiping to reach the next story. There is also embedded captions, some video and added photo galleries here.

I found some of the font choices somewhat small for a tablet magazine, which might make you think this was designed for print first, but the scrolling text boxes show that would not be the case.

A second magazine, Southwest Florida Parent and Child, was released into the Newsstand just today, as well. While I did not download and install it, it looks like it was created in the same way as Grandeur.

First look: The Seattle Times Pictures Of The Year | 2012

Thanks to a tweet I was referred to a story that appeared on concerning the new eBook published by the photography staff of The Seattle Times, which then led me to download the eBook for myself. For anyone looking to create their own eBooks for sale within the Apple Bookstore this is a good example to look at.

Sold under the name Photo Staff of The Seattle Times, the eBook was created using Apple's own free software solution, iBooks Author. The software package, like any new software, takes a little time to get used to, but does produce an attractive eBook. What the staff of The Seattle Times has produced may be fairly simple, but it is attractive, professional in appearance, and worth purchasing. No, it doesn't have the fancy animations found in some textbooks Apple has promoted, but it a major step up from a simple Kindle Edition.
The Seattle Times Pictures Of The Year | 2012 is priced at $2.99 and appeared in the iTunes store on December 12. Because the staff used iBooks Author the book will have a little icon displayed in the Book Description and should appear in the section Apple uses to promote eBooks made with their solution. Unfortunately, I did not see the book there (which is why I missed it when launched), hardly a good way for Apple to encourage new publishers.

I was not surprised to see that the staff decided to lock in the eBook into landscape orientation only. I did this myself with the first book I've produced, a vacation eBook for the family. Most pictures are naturally in landscape, especially when shot with professional DSLR cameras. But portrait shots can be accommodated in number of ways. One way is to simply let them be shown in landscape – sideways, in other words. I don't like this solution, but this eBook used that at least once.

Another way to handle it is to make the photo less than full screen in height, and then let the photo fill the screen upon tapping. Another way, not employed here, is to have the thumbnail be in portrait, then let then link it to another shot seen in landscape (sideways). None of these options are optimal, but they are not that annoying, either.
Obviously, the star of any eBook will be the photography, which is why the platform is perfect for the subject. The idea of publishing a first eBook of photos is a great way for any newspaper to start, and the costs are minimal.

Unlike the developer program, which costs $99 per year, Apple does not charge to set up an account to sell eBooks. But each book published, if one charges for the book, requires an International Standard Book Number (ISBN). The cost for a single ISBN is $125. One can also buy a block of 10 ISBN numbers for $250, which would cover you should you decide to publish your eBook in a format other than IBA, the iBooks Author format.

The obvious downside to using iBooks Author is that the eBook produced can only be sold in Apple's bookstore. Many independent publishers are struggling with the question of whether they should produce an ePub book instead so that the distribution is wider. But for early experimentation, especially in the area of photography, textbooks, and the like, iBooks Author seems to be a good solution.

If there is any disappointment with the platform it is simply that, while there were a few add-on programs created immediately after its release, these have been reduced to a trickle – and are rarely of much help anyways (just some new templates that really aren't that much different from what you get with Apple). Also, Apple has not brought eBooks created with iBooks Author to the iPhone – why is really anyone's guess.

The one thing to be pointed out with the eBook from The Seattle Times is the decision, which I like, to not use Apple's chapter mechanism to create a new chapter for each month. Instead, this eBook contains only two chapters: one for the monthly content of photographs, the other for the credits.

Update: I left out one detail from my original post: the size of the download. At just over 500 MB one might think that the eBook is too large. I'm not sure that is the case. First of all, Apple has a 3 gig limit on eBooks, this is far short of that. Plus, with over 100 photos and 12 videos in the book, one would expect it to be large – and besides, the download (and installation) was very quick.

I think the real issue here is the storage level of most tablets. If Apple really wants to sell interactive eBooks, movies and more, it will have to supply more storage in its iPads - cloud storage is not the solution, or at least the total solution. I'm constantly having to dump great apps such as Played in Britain simply because of space limitations.

Here is a brief walk-through video of a portion of the new eBook:

Bonnier rolls out iOS 6 app updates for Saveur, Skiing, Sport Fishing. as well as other magazine titles

The Swedish magazine publisher Bonnier is a company that one has a tough time getting a handle on. On the one hand the company gave us Mag+, the digital publishing platform that many magazine publishers have turned to when creating their own, native designed tablet editions. On the other hand, most of Bonnier's own tablet editions show a complete lack of enthusiasm for the platform, being simply replicas of the print edition. Today Bonnier released a series of app updates for some of its titles, with most likely more to appear in the App Store over the next few days.

Saveur, Skiing, and Sport Fishing were among those updated (as well as others). Each of the apps are universal (meaning they will work on the iPad, as well as the iPhone and iPod touch).

The update brings these apps up to version 4.0 and the app description says that the update makes the apps iOS 6 compliant and adds support for the iPhone 5's larger display, as well as fixing bugs.

But my own experience with these updates is that there is no iPhone 5 display. I downloaded two of the updates, careful to take a screenshot before the update, then a new one after the update and, as you can see below-left, neither version appears to include support for the iPhone 5.
As hard to read as these replicas are on the iPad, they are just silly on the iPhone. Why these apps were made universal is a bit hard to understand. Then again, my eyes are older than some people's so maybe microscopic fonts are not a problem for others.

The biggest complaint most readers have with these apps, however, involve the pricing policy of charging print readers for access to the digital versions. Saveur's reviews, for instance, show about twice as many one-star reviews than five-star ones.

"I wrote Saveur and requested input as to why I pay for a print and digital version. No response," wrote a reviewer identified as Michael Stefko. "Businessweek does it right! Saveur, wake-up and understand that the party will soon be over!"

Monday, January 7, 2013

60 Minutes takes a look at Newhouse's Times-Picayune and its reduced print run, ends its segment by repeating rumor concerning The Plain Dealer

The management team at Newhouse Newspapers must be breathing a sigh of relief this morning following last night's airing of a segment on 60 Minutes about their decision to cut back to just three days a week the print run of their New Orleans daily, The Times-Picayune.

The segment's host, Morley Safer, spoke with Jim Amoss, the newspaper’s editor, as well as representatives of the community, the major, Mitch Landrieu, and NYT media columnist David Carr. Safer tried to reach Newhouse executives but was told to speak to Amoss.

What followed was a recapping of the situation at the newspaper chain, which not only cut back the print run in New Orleans, but at its other properties including those in Alabama. While the issues that have caused the decision at Newhouse were discussed, not much discussion centered on how the new strategy would succeed (and really what that new strategy is).

When asked by Safar whether he agreed with the company's decision to cut back the print run, editor Amoss answered by equivocating.

"Well, we'd been grappling, as all metro newspapers in this country have with what's happening to our industry," Amoss said. "And that is a steady decline in circulation, a steady decline in print ad revenue. And the solutions there aren't many. One is to act as though nothing were happening and continue business as usual. And to me, that's presiding over a gradual irrelevancy and a gradual death."

Is that a "yes"?

Later in the segment Lolis Elie, a former columnist at the paper, asked "how can half as many people cover the same amount of news with half as many resources? We fear for the quality of the journalism."

Amoss, while responding directly to Elie, gives a good answer back by stating that there "is no law of nature that says that kind of journalism is inextricably linked to ink on paper. We fully intend to continue to produce the kind of public trust journalism for which they know us."

That is true, but it gets to the real problem with the moves by the newspaper chain: while the paper may believe that the future of newspapering in online, no real plain, no real digital initiatives were announced at the time of the print cutback, and little evidence exists even today that the newspaper chain is truly committed to digital media.
Look at The Plain Dealer, the chain's daily newspaper in Cleveland. 60 Minutes ended the segment on the situation in New Orleans this way"

"And there are rumblings that an even larger Newhouse newspaper, The Cleveland Plain Dealer, founded in 1842 and with a circulation close to 300,000, could soon be next," Safar said.

If so, the folks in Cleveland will most likely be just as upset as those in New Orleans. They would be right to be even more upset. Because while the move in the south came as a surprise to many, a move in Ohio would be expected. Yet, the newspaper's website, which was recently redesigned, is in no way ready to assume the news responsibilities for a major metro area. The redesign is blog-like and is not a suitable vehicle for volumes of Internet advertising.

The situation is even worse in the area of mobile and tablet platforms. The mobile app was launched long ago by Verve Wireless, and is sold under the vendor's name; while the tablet app is a replica edition built by Technavia. How does one do a replica of a print edition that does not exist.

The trouble is that no one believes most newspapers when they saw they are becoming "digital-focused", and for good reason. Most of the most "digital-focused" newspaper chains out there are the least digitally advanced when it comes to the new digital platforms or with selling digital advertising.

Should Newhouse actually go through with an announcement for The Plain Dealer, I would hope that they would, at the very least, accompany that announcement with a new website and new mobile and tablet editions, as well. If you are going to take something away, it is always good to have something up your sleeve to show off. There is very little trust left that would allow simply for promises.

Apple App Store redesign & search functions have some media app developers thinking about the alternatives

If you've even worked in the food business you know the problems manufacturers face with retailers. The battle over shelf space and discoverability is never ending. A few years ago I walked down the aisle of a grocery store with the marketing manager of an organic food brand and watched as the marketer pointed out the obvious problems with the business: "how am I supposed to sell my product when the retailer hides it away like this?" he complained.

App developers now know that man's pain.

Since the redesign of the App Store by Apple, developers have complained of slowing app sales and a search function that seems to only favor the big guys at the expense of the very developers that made the App Store a success. Worse, there seems to be no one to complain to, as Apple has either decided to shut itself off from its developer community, or has decided that the future is about less apps, less developers, but bigger sales.

It's hard to argue with success: just this morning Apple announced that it had hit the 40 billion download mark. That is, 40 billion app downloads had occurred since the App Store's launch in 2008, and half of those came in 2012.

"It has been an incredible year for the iOS developer community," Eddy Cue, Apple’s senior vice president of Internet Software and Services, said in the company's announcement. "Developers have made over seven billion dollars on the App Store, and we continue to invest in providing them with the best ecosystem so they can create the most innovative apps in the world."

It has, indeed, been a good year for developers of apps for the iOS platform – assuming you have a marketing budget and gain the favor of Apple so that your apps are promoted prominently in the App Store.

"Our success on iOS has been incredible," said Samir Hanna, vice president of Consumer Products for Autodesk, one of the developers highlighted in the Apple announcement. "We set off with the modest goal of bringing SketchBook to iPhone users as a way of introducing them to Autodesk. Fast forward three years, we now offer 20 apps to iOS users that have achieved more than 50 million downloads, and we continue to roll out new creativity and design tools that appeal to both professionals and consumers."

But the opinion of this successful developer is not universally shared. Said one French developer in the Apple developer forums: "This whole search thing really start to get frustrating..........really starting to think it's not worth anymore to make iOS Apps..."

The problems of search and discoverability have been discussed here before. Now, in 2013, it appears that the situation is not about to change soon. One dev developer I spoke to last week was unaware of the changes to the store as they reside outside the U.S. and their own App Store appeared unchanged. "That explains a lot," he told me. "We expected better sales in the U.S., but most of them came from Europe. If you can't see the app you can't buy the app," he told me.

For some, the changes are being accepted but a new realization that iOS may not be able to support developers all by itself any longer. "I've never owned an Android device, but I went out and bought LG’s Nexus 4," said a media app developer. It is harder now to maintain my earlier recommendation of Apple first, Android second now," he told me.
A couple of years ago one option would have been to go with independent digital newsstands such as Zinio, LeKiosk, etc. But one wonders whether they will survive. Next Issue Media, set up by the big magazine publishing houses of Condé Nast, Hearst, Meredith, News Corp. and Time Inc., have accepted its first titles from outside the ranks of the original founders – ESPN the Magazine and Fast Company among them – but it is doubtful that the digital newsstand set up by media giants would ever be open to new titles from small, independent publishers intent on launching tablet-only titles that would compete head-on with the legacy titles of big media companies.

"The Newsstand is still the place you want to be," said a sales person with digital publishing software company. "It's not as if Amazon and Google are totally open, either."

That leaves the option of HTML5 apps that mimic the features of native apps, while staying outside the platforms of Apple, Google and other tech giants. That solution avoids the fee splits and limitations of working with third party platform owners, but does nothing about the issue of discoverability and search.

BBC launches mobile sports app for the UK; Lambrakis Press updates app for the Greek edition of Marie Claire; Crain's Chicago Business gets performance upgrades

The BBC today launched a mobile sports app for the iPhone, with an Android version promised soon. BBC Sport can be found inside the UK App Store, but not in others, unfortunately.

"The Android version still needs some more development work and testing to ensure it works on the wide range of Android devices available and will be live in the next few weeks," said Lucie McLean, executive product manager for sport at BBC Future Media.

"The new BBC Sport app builds on the success of London 2012 to give users an even easier way to get the content they love, whether it's checking out how their team got on, following live text updates on the day's sporting action or catching up with the latest news," said McLean.

While BBC apps are launched under the BBC Worldwide name in the international app stores, this new one can be found under Media Applications Technologies Limited, the name seen for international versions of BBC mobile apps.
Two apps seen here recently received updates this weekend. The Lambrakis Press app for the Greek edition of Marie Claire, ΜΟΥΣΑ (Mousa), was updated top add new features and to support portrait mode. The app as originally released in mid-December.

The Greek digital magazine is a stand-alone serving up one edition and was built using the Adobe DPS Single Edition solution. A major update of the app would be needed to add Newsstand support for continuous publishing and automatic downloads.

Released a few weeks earlier, the app for Crain's Chicago Business has been updated this weekend (see original post here). The update is meant to improve the performance of the app with faster scrolling, improved synchronization, and stability improvements.

Those who use the Blogsy app will see a new update to the app.