Friday, January 25, 2013

Digital magazines: Circulation pricing and information issues vary across titles, the fee and user info wars with Apple were unnecessary and counterproductive

After attending a series of meetings this week with various service companies and groups of publishers, I am amazed how much lingering misinformation and bad feelings remain when it comes to the fees being charged by Apple within the Newsstand and the issue of reader information.

The problem starts with the issue of paid circulation. In general, the industry would like to pretend, or at least often pretends, that their very livelihood is dependent on paid circulation. But the fact is that very few consumer magazines rely on turning a profit from their circulation efforts, and even fewer B2B titles do.

For a magazine like Consumer Reports, that does not accept advertising, paid circulation revenue is vital. But even CR offers readers a reasonable rate for an annual subscription, currently $29. As a nonprofit, the magazine is dependent on contributions and other revenue sources other than just reader subscriptions. But at $29 for a year of print magazines, it is most unlikely that the amount generated, just over $2 per issue, covers print and distribution costs (in fact, there is no way it does).

But it is the nature of print magazine publishing that this is the way circulation works: the goal of a circulation manager is to sell single issues and subscriptions, manage the costs of the department, and if highly successful, end up with as small a loss as possible.

Looking over the P&Ls of some of the B2B magazines I have managed, I see that circulation generally accounts for between 10 and 15 percent of all costs (slightly less if a title is hit with high administrative costs, those costs passed on to the title by the corporate entity). When postage is added in, generally seen as a production (or "mechanical") cost, that number is doubled. In other words, things associated with circulation account for a quarter of all costs, and next to nothing in revenue towards the bottom line.

With this in mind, it remains a mystery why the issue of Apple's 30 percent commission on subscriptions and single issue sales was, and remains for some publishers, such a big deal.

Some media sites, and more than a few tech sites, have written pieces that make snide remarks about the number of paid subscriptions sold by some magazine publishers inside the Newsstand, concluding that the numbers are not adding up for the publishers.

What is not being taken into account, beyond the production costs being saved by few print readers, is the positive effect digital subscriptions is having on rate bases. The last batch of ABC reports is showing that many publishers are reporting higher overall circulation, easily maintaining their rate bases despite falling print numbers. This fact is saving more than a few publishers from having to rebate back paid ad space revenues.

While paid circulation strategies are more complex than they first appear, varying both within the consumer and B2B magazine industries, the issue of information is just as complex. One of the biggest grips heard by many vendors is that Apple's Newsstand is does not automatically share the information on the buyer of a digital magazine subscription, and that very few readers are opting to share their information with publishers.

Morning Brief: Twitter lays an egg with Vine, rushes out update; Google updates its own mobile video app YouTube Capture; Realtor adds price alerts to iOS app

If at first you don't succeed... that is probably what Twitter must be thinking after their disastrous launch of Vine, a new video sharing app released yesterday into the App Store.

This much fanfare, but little actual success, Twitter launched Vine - Make a scene under the Vine Labs name into the App Store. The idea behind the app is to make 6 second looping videos that are attached to Tweets. Unfortunately, after launch the app immediately crashing when you attempt to sign into your Twitter account.

Strangely, most stories about the app on tech site failed to mention this little problem. But users inside the App Store laid into the app, giving the app one-star reviews throughout yesterday afternoon.

Because of the sign-in problems I held off writing about the app. Hey, give 'em a chance, I thought.

Well, this morning one can find an update waiting for them if they have downloaded Vine. "We've fixed a few launch day hiccups," reads the app description. In addition to a Twitter sign-in fix, there is also support for international keyboards (another early complaint about the app) and most importantly, a character limit for user names (I bet they found this to be a bug that led to crashes, as well).

So will video tweeting catch on? Hard to say, not that many tweets have photos attached right now – at least not in my Twitter feed. But it is a nice new feature and I will at least try to use it from time to time.

You do subscribe to the TNM Twitter feed, right?

With Twitter grabbing a lot of attention for their video app, it is interesting (ironic? coincidental?) that this morning there is an update for Google's own video sharing app, YouTube Capture.

The app update brings some nice improvements to the app: 1080p uploads are now possible with YouTube Capture, and there is improve audio sync and better upload feedback and sharing of content.

Google also issued an update for Google Currents, its own news magazine aggregation application. Like many of the other aggregation and reformatting applications, Currents got a lot of attention but appears to moved back into the background. I set up a Google Currents page for TNM when this app launched – I'm not really sure if I took it down or if I took it down (nope, it's still there).

Today's update is major enough to be labeled Version 2.0 as it brings a bunch of redesign elements to the app.

Do you use Google Currents? What about the other aggregation apps such as Flipboard and Zite?

Finally, tech savvy home buyers will love the little update to the Realtor universal app released today. The app, Real Estate Search, now brings alerts to the users saved listings (Save a listing you have found and it the price changes you will get an alert).

I imagine this would be really handy if you have found a property but think it is priced too high and are waiting for the price to fall. Good addition to an app that is pretty good already.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Microsoft earnings pretty much in line, revenue growth less than 3% with Windows Division leading the way

It's earnings season and Microsoft must have shuttered when it watched Apple report record revenue and profits only to see its stock slump 12 percent. For the previous number one tech company in the world, the prospect of reporting its small revenue growth must have been frightening.

But report you must, and Microsoft did today after the close of the markets. This report concerns Microsoft's Q2 (Apple was reporting its Q1) and revenue grew to $21.46 billion for the quarter that ended December 31, 2012, up 2.7 percent. Operating income and net income for the quarter were $7.77 billion and $6.38 billion.

The problem for Microsoft is that this quarter saw the introduction of Windows 8, and it was the Windows Division that held up the company, with revenue growing 24 percent.

But both the Business Division and the Entertainment and Devices Division saw revenue fall by double digits. Also, the company failed to reveal the sales numbers for its new Surface tablet, taking a similar position as Amazon, though it should be said that this has not stopped Amazon's CEO from making claims about the success of its sales.

Nonetheless Microsoft's CEO was as effusive as ever: "Our big, bold ambition to reimagine Windows as well as launch Surface and Windows Phone 8 has sparked growing enthusiasm with our customers and unprecedented opportunity and creativity with our partners and developers," said Ballmer.

Despite the earnings report, after hour stock trading is seeing Microsoft's share price falling only modestly to just over $27 a share, down 2 percent.

ASBPE extends deadline for the Azbees B2B editorial award competition to February 4

The American Society of Business Publication Editors (ASBPE) today said that they were extending the deadline for their awards competition, the Azbees, until Monday, February 4. (The original deadline was January 28th.)

A list of the categories and submission requirements (generally PDFs) can be found on the competition website. Entry fees are $95 for ASBPE members and $115 for non-members.

Print editorial and design entries must have an issue date of 2012 to be eligible. while digital entries must have been published, posted, or emailed from January 1, 2012 to December 31, 2012.

I'm not too into awards, but if you are feeling a little down, need to pump up your resume, or simply want a little recognition, there are plenty of categories offering your publication or website a chance to stand out.

Stanford offers its iOS coding course with Paul Hegarty free of charge again inside iTunes U

Stanford University is once again offering its iOS coding class free of charge inside iTunes U. The course, Coding Together: Developing Apps for iPhone and iPad (Winter 2013), is in 17 sessions, with the first – Course Introduction, Overview of iOS – available for download now.

Once again the course is taught by Paul Hegarty who is fantastic. But a word of warning, though: this is a Stanford course and the lecturer is very firm in saying that in order to make use of the course the prospective developer should already have knowledge of object oriented programming. At Stanford itself, there is one required course that the student should have attended prior to this one, and another that is recommended.

So if you have some basic programming knowledge then you might be able to take advantage of the class which promises to give you experience with iPhone and iPad apps, using the iOS SDK. It also gets into such topics as bject-oriented database API, animation and multi-threading.

Time to go to class.

For most B2B magazine titles getting serious about the web is still the top priority compared to mobile & tablets

To be sure, there are a lot of really good B2B websites to be found that are published by print magazines. But while the focus the past few year or so has been on launching first mobile and tablet applications, the fact remains that for most B2B titles getting serious about the web still has to be their top priority.

Before belatedly launching their first tablet editions, the ad trade magazines, AdAge and AdWeek, both created useful, well-designed websites for their titles - and both (AdAge, in particular) have been very good at using social media to promote stories on their sites.

But these two titles are very much the exception to the rule when it comes to B2B. Most trade journals continue to struggle with the basics of web publishing such as publishing fresh, new, interesting material every day, promoting that material through Twitter and other social media outlets, using blogs to build readership and drive regular traffic, creating forums and other community features, and selling digital advertising.

Part of the problem, as any publisher will tell you, is the short staffing that is the norm at most trade journals. But the fact is that many editors continue to struggle with the basic concepts of the web, such as frequency of new material.

One of the shocks I experienced lately was looking at the media kit of a magazine group with multiple titles and learning that the group's web traffic was just a fraction of this website's traffic. With established titles, constant opportunities to promote their sites through their magazines, newsletters and mailings, one would think the group's web traffic would have dwarfed TNM – but no, mostly because the content was stale, canned, and of little interest to the industry the sites were serving.

Blogs on B2B websites are a particular problem. Most B2B titles have long since adopted the blog as a standard feature of their industry websites. But getting bloggers to write daily remains a problem. One construction website I am familiar with successfully signed up multiple bloggers to attempt to drive traffic, but sadly their bloggers could not keep up, contributing a blog post only sporadically. You don't have to have a degree in psychology to know that readers will not come back to that site regularly once they have seen a few times that no new material is available.

The construction sites, of which many of the logos can be seen above, are actually pretty good compared to many other industry segments, probably because these titles, though struggling, are still larger than many other segment leaders. There are, no doubt, many good examples of trade journals that have successfully create thriving web properties – but they remain few and far between.

Even though many would like to rush into the tablet platform, many B2Bs would still be better off working on their websites if they feel they are still lacking in this area. When talking to digital publishing vendors, a good question to put to the company would be whether their digital publishing solution would help their websites. Many digital publishing platforms are one-trick ponies that simply build an app, or  create a PDF version of their print title. While other vendors are offering content management and work flow solutions that can help a company manage web publishing, while also offering a way to launch those first mobile or tablet editions.

Morning Brief: Apple stock gets savaged because analysts are fools; newspaper and magazine app updates; online subscription company Piano Media appoints CTO

Once again Apple has reported record revenue and earnings, and once again the stock is getting hammered in after hours (and now pre-hours) trading. Why? Because it is all a game, played by folks who bat under the Mendoza line when it comes to forecasting. Those foolish enough to invest today in the market deserve what they get, which makes you wonder why anyone would want to go public and stay that way.

Apple stock dropped 46.5 points after their earnings report was released. That report showed that the company sold 47.8 million iPhones and 22.9 million iPads, both records. The company also earned a record $13.1 billion in profits in the first quarter of its fiscal year, on revenues of $54.5 billion – both were all-time highs and pretty much what most forecasters projected. As a result, a cash dividend of $2.65 per share was announced.

No matter.

Spreed released a series of app updates for the apps for MediaNews Group. The newspaper chain, founded by Dean Singleton, and now part of Digital First Media, outsourced the app development to Spreed and as a result all the apps are identical (and pretty bad, frankly).

The apps are for papers such as the Contra Costa Times, San Jose Mercury News and Marin Independent.

It is sad to think that newspapers so near the heart of Silicon Valley are forced to use simple apps that replicate their websites rather than explore the new digital platform.

Another newspaper that issued an app update has shown more leadership in digital, The Wall Street Journal. (the period is part of the app name), which with its last update moved in the Newsstand, issued an updated last night which fixes some crashing issues and reduces the amount of storage used by the app.

PCWorld's iPad edition, called PCWorld Digital Magazine (U.S.), also was updated last night, finally bringing the app up to iOS 6 standards. That certainly took a long time, don't you think?
A magazine I talked about last week, The Nimble Magazine, also issued an update (that was quick). The update fixes some subscription issues and the startup image.

The Nimble Magazine uses The Baker Framework and is published by Benjamin Rabe from Hmaburg.

The European online subscription payment systems company, Piano Media, this morning announced that it had appointed Stuart Ashford as Chief Technical Officer. The move, the company said, is an important part of the company’s integration of Piano Solo, aimed at individual publishers wanting to monetize their online content through paywalls.

Ashford, a South African native, worked for his own company in Johannesburg, before moving to the Netherlands, then Slovakia where he worked for Hewlett Packard.

Piano Media is based in Bratislava, Slovakia.

"Stuart brings international business, IT and management experience from two continents,: said Tomáš Bella, Piano Media's Chief Executive Officer. "We are planning to expand outside of our region soon and his breadth of experience really fits perfectly into our plans. His five years of corporate experience at Hewlett Packard in particular makes him a valuable addition to Piano."

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Apple's latest earnings report reveals that the company sold 22.9 million iPads in its first quarter of fiscal 2013

While the tech and financial sites will report in more depth on Apple's first quarter earnings for 2013, I wanted to stay focused on tablet sales, the one area of most interest to TNM readers.

With the introduction of the iPad mini in the quarter, and throwing in a new, albeit only slightly changed new iPad 4 model, pretty much everyone expected that Apple would have a good quarter in this area. They didn't disappoint: 22.9 million versus 15.4 million units in the same quarter last year. Revenue growth was 18 percent, year over year – I think that might prove to be far better than most companies in the space, don't you think?

That brings total iPad sales to 121 million units since its introduction in April of 2010. (Or as one media guru would put it, over 120 million devices with no purpose, though I have a feeling many would disagree.)

Business Insider is already out with its usual and highly predictable analysis, which I value about as I value Enron stock.

With $54.5 billion in quarterly revenue (more than Google's annual revenue) and a quarterly net profit of $13.1 billion (about $3 billion more than Google's annual net profit), I'd say the numbers look pretty good to me, and pretty much in line with analyst's expectations – again, not that I really care about those folks.

The key for media professionals is whether it is worth their while to develop for the iOS platform, and while many of the leading media consultants bet the farm against both the iPhone and iPad, I think the numbers continue to tell the story. Meanwhile, I won't hold my breath waiting for any mea culpas from these folks, they are way too busy speaking at industry events and teaching the next generation of media professionals all about digital media.

Mag+ announces February app contest, 'Unleash the Content, Build Your Dream App"; $20K in prizes

The digital publishing platform company Mag+ has announced a new contest to take place from February 8-22. "Unleash the Content, Build Your Dream App" will offer three winning entries more than $20,000 in cash and prizes for new apps submitted that use the Mag+ SDK. To register you will need a GitHub account and username.

The jury that will judge your creation is made up of Mike Haney, chief creative officer and Caleb Jaffa, lead iOS developer, both from Mag+, as well as Vini Dy, director of technology at The Wonderfactory.

Last summer Mag_+ ran a contest called "Magnify Your World" which saw the children's book Wootini win in the book category, Hi Hirvi win in the brochures and catalogs category, Scrawl Magazine win for comics, the Chicago Tribune's Redeye for the iPad win in the editorial category, Hash Magazine win in music and movies, Zone Blitz Magazine win the people's choice award, and the magazine J3Z:SE win in the self-promotion category.

For the new contest, developers will be asked to submit their .IPA files to Mag+ via or

The New York Post enters the eBook business teaming up with HarperCollins, publishing a new digital-only title very much in keeping with the tabloid newspaper

I so very much needed a good laugh today and I have to thank the New York Post for providing it with their announcement of their first eBook, published in partnership with HarperCollins.

Tricks of the Trade is by Ashley Dupre, the paper's "Ask Ashley" columnist, and a former escort. The eBook was released this morning and can be found inside Apple's iBookstore,, Google ebooks, Barnes & Noble and BAM! making it available on iOS, Kindle, NOOK and Android platforms, priced at $5.99.

"Tricks of the Trade is a unique and fun book – the perfect way for The Post to enter the market. We expect it will be the first of many Post eBooks to come in partnership with HarperCollins," said Jesse Angelo, publisher of the New York Post.

"Many of our readers have already embraced the Post's digital products, and we believe this new venture into eBooks will prove very popular," Angelo said. "We are thrilled to be working with our friends at HarperCollins, one of the world's great publishers and a true digital leader."

The Post has a new website to support the new eBook with links to the various online stores. (One has to admit, the Post really knows its readers.)

The eBook does not, apparently, have a print equivalent, when makes the partnership with a publisher a bit odd. One would think that newspapers could create and launch their own eBooks without a publishing partner, just as several other newspapers such as The Seattle Times have done. But it is true that managing various eBook platforms is not a breeze. The Times eBook, for instance, was built solely for Apple's store using iBooks Author. Recently the NYT chose a partner to produce eBooks, too, inking a deal with Byliner.

Newspaper publisher Postmedia Network gets some marketing love from Apple inside the Canadian App Store

Apple's iTunes App Store policy has made a radical shift from promoting developers, in general, to promoting big developers exclusively. Hearst, for instance, now has a promotion named "Read Them Here First" running inside the App Store. As a result of the shift in strategy, Apple's App Store team has made it impossible to find newly released apps unless the downloader has a direct link or already knows the name of the app.

But the U.S. App Store is not the only place where Apple is promoting specific company apps. Today I noticed the promotion going on for the regional newspapers from Postmedia Network. The promotion, under the banner "Regional Papers" can be found in the News category of the Canadian App Store. All of the apps are stand-alone news apps, which is why you won't see the same banner in Newsstand.

The apps are for 11 different newspaper properties and include the Calgary Herald, Edmonton Journal, The Vancouver Sun and The Windsor Star (all Canadian App Store links).

The apps are all universal and were developed by the Halifax company MindSea Development Inc. They are nice news apps, which look a lot like the NYT model, but with added features that make them a bit of an advancement on the web-to-tablet idea.

I like these occasional promotions for apps, but I'm still at a loss as to why they have to be at the expense of a more user friendly App Store, where searching for apps by release date and finding all apps in a category has been eliminated. Has the experience with dealing with so many developers soured Apple to the developer community? It is a strange and highly counterproductive move on Apple's part.

In the meantime, it is good news for the bigger media properties. For Postmedia it may mean some more downloads, though since the apps are free and merely mirror their websites, the positive impact will most likely be minimal.

PixelMags lands a big customer in Pentagon Publishing; two new replica editions released into the Newsstand

Back in my B2B publishing days I used to make lots of calls with my reps. Publisher calls generally go well because clients appreciate the attention and whatever complaints they have usually are more subdued in an environment where the publisher is present.

During those days there were a series of questions I loved to ask prospective advertising clients. One was "what is a sale worth to your company" a way of getting information on how the company made profits and who advertising in our magazine could help drive those profits. Another was "if you could land just one new customer this year, who would you want that to be?" Most advertisers would pick some large company such as a big contracting firm with lots of contracts.
 photo Bulletin-iPad-lg_zpsa09f7ee0.jpg
But the real smart clients would name the same customer: the government. If you can sell to the U.S. government, the thinking goes, you have it made.

Today PixelMags launched two new tablet editions into Apple's Newsstand for Pentagon Publishing Inc. Now Pentagon Publishing is NOT the government, but it sure has a client list that looks like it. The Atlanta-based firm has a long list of government and institutional clients that could keep PixelMags busy for a while.

What Los Angeles-based PixelMags does best is sell. It's replica edition apps are not particularly good, and certainly don't offer publishers anything another replica maker couldn't. But the company has over 120 iPad apps in the App Store under its own name, and many more under the name of the publisher – which is the case with these two new apps.

Both Bulletin Magazine and Shipmate Magazine are universal apps – hard to read on the iPad, impossible to read on the iPhone. But that doesn't stop publishers from continuing to contract with the company. For many publishers, just being there – in the App Store, that is – is the only consideration.

Media app updates: American Express publishing transitions apps; The Weather Channel swaps out icons; The Philadelphia Inquirer issues download fix

As I mentioned back in September, American Express Publishing was transitioning their apps to a new file format. Today the company issued major app updates again for both FOOD & WINE and Travel + Leisure magazines.
Complete this update of the FOOD & WINE app to take advantage of NEW and IMPROVED features that allow for a better reading experience and for enhanced sharing and bookmarking capabilities. Once you update the app, you’ll need to sign-in and re-download issues that you’ve already purchased/downloaded (there is no additional charge). Click on the “App Support” button to the left for additional instructions. If you do not update the app, you can continue to access any issue downloaded prior to September 9, 2012 the way you currently do. – App Description
 photo FOODWINE-recipe-Feb13-sm_zpscab1bb5f.jpg
Changing an app in such a major was is a pain for the publisher, but it is even worse for the reader who is forced to make a decision about updating their app and redownloading issues.

But American Express Publishing has handled this the right way. They are upfront with their readers, informing them that they can still get access to the issues they have bought, and also giving them the option to opt-out – though that would clearly end their access to future issues.

This won't stop a few readers from complaining, of course. But AmEx is moving in the right direction. These two tablet editions are hybrids, of sorts – with print ads pretty much as seen in print and the editorial pages reformatted for the platform. FOOD & WINE, for instance, uses both scrolling pages and swiping navigation, a bit interchangeably here, but also treats the recipes as separate pages accessible through tapping icons on the feature pages.

I was a bit confused by the latest issue, however, as it has "Coming Soon" buttons all over the place. Was this a slip-up, or will the editors be updating this issue now that the app update is live? I guess we'll see in the days to come.

Hey, the Weather Channel has updated the app icon for their iPad app. As mentioned here a few times, the icon had the word "TEST" stamped on it. For a while I thought I was seeing things as no one else bothered to mention it.

"We apologize for any inconvenience!" reads the app description as this update for The Weather Channel for iPad only involves fixing the icon. I was glad to see the update as I was beginning to doubt my sanity.

Philadelphia Media Network has issued an update for The Philadelphia Inquirer, the tablet edition for the newspaper. The app update is designed to fix an issue involving downloading editions, but this app is as much a soap opera in real life as the newspaper itself.

The app is one of those apps that simply reformats the newspaper's website for the iPad. We can all blame The New York Times for this kind of app, which is really pretty much unnecessary in my view. Because of this, the app description has to lead off with the warning "This application is NOT A PRINT REPLICA version of The Philadelphia Inquirer. For that app, please search for 'The Philadelphia Inquirer Digital Edition (Replica)' in the App Store."

Why would a reader have to search for the e-edition? Because it does not appear under the publisher's own name but under the name of the developer – in this case, NewspaperDirect. What a mess.

But readers have been slamming the app for lots of other reasons, as well. Readers are not very happy about the pop-up ads that have been appearing in the apps similar to what apps created by Tapedition have been featuring. It is annoying as hell for readers and they have been expressing their disappointment.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Google had a very good year, indeed; revenue up 36% for 2012, reaches $50 billion mark

It is earnings season again, and Google led things off with a bang, reporting that the company had reached the $50 billion mark for revenue for the year, up 36 percent over 2011.

"We ended 2012 with a strong quarter," Larry Page, CEO of Google, said in the company's press release. "Revenues were up 36% year-on-year, and 8% quarter-on-quarter. And we hit $50 billion in revenues for the first time last year – not a bad achievement in just a decade and a half. In today’s multi-screen world we face tremendous opportunities as a technology company focused on user benefit. It’s an incredibly exciting time to be at Google."

Net income came in at $10.7 billion, up almost exactly $1 billion over the prior year, a 10.3 percent gain year over year.

For the first time the company was able to report revenue from Motorola Mobility, though no year-over-year numbers will be seen until later this year.

In Q4 Google advertising grew 12.6 percent to $12.9 billion, though revenue growth slow somewhat in the quarter compared to Google's overall 2012 revenue growth of 21.5 percent.

While Google's cash hoard has not reached Apple levels, it is still at an impressive level, with over $14 billion in cash available, as well as $33 billion in marketable securities – that means even more acquisitions in the future, of course.

Boston Globe to launch digital pilot program involving iPads, digital subscriptions in Boston & Stoneham schools

The Boston Globe announced this afternoon that it will be launching a digital pilot program that will put 75 iPads and digital subscriptions to into public school classrooms in Boston and Stoneham, Mass.

The program runs through the spring semester at both school districts and is being paid for by $65,000 of vacation donation funds from Globe subscribers. 50 iPads, along with projectors, will go to Boston schools, 25 to Stoneham High School.

“We believe that digital kids turn into digital adults, to put it simply," said Robert Saurer, the Globe’s director of customer experience and innovation. "We want to provide easy, portable access not only to our content, but to the greater world of content on the web – deployed in the classroom daily, streamed live, as the kids are learning."

"In the past, we have had to rely on the limited number of desktops or laptops available in schools. Computers are often not available for social sciences classes, or for other work where students would benefit by being able to do their own online research," Saurer said.

The weekly music trade journal Billboard Magazine enters the Apple Newsstand with a new hybrid tablet edition

With their apps still showing up in the App Store under the name Prometheus Global Media, the publisher of such trade journals as Adweek and The Hollywood Reporter, has released their first tablet edition for Billboard Magazine.

Billboard Magazine, the app, is using the hybrid approach to creating its tablet edition: most print ads are as seen in print, while editorial pages are reformatted for the iPad. The result is an easy to read digital magazine that uses standard iPad magazine navigation of scrolling within stories and swiping to advance to the next feature.

This is the same approach used by its other tablet editions, Adweek Magazine and The Hollywood Reporter. The one thing I noticed that seemed a bit different, however, was the way 2-page spreads were handled. While many tab editions simply spread the two pages over two tablet pages, leading to parts of the ad making no sense, Billboard is choosing to reduce the size of the spread to a single page. It is possible that the art director chose to do this because the ad in question, for Fintage House, works find reduced down in this fashion – it is possible they wouldn't do this to an ad with smaller fonts.

The latest issue inside the app, which is used as a sample, is a smallish download – less than 100 MB. This is accomplished by making the tablet edition portrait-only, and by limiting multimedia features.
Left: the subscription pop-up that appears upon opening the app; Middle: the cover of the latest issue inside the app; Right: ads are as they appear in print, which is slightly shorter than the size of the iPad's display

The publishing company recently brought on Yahoo’s former interim-CEO Ross Levinsohn as its CEO, and announced that going forward the company would be renamed Guggenheim Digital Media.

"While there's digital in the title of this company, the importance of print goes without saying," Levinsohn said at the time of the announcement. "I don't think print is something that goes away."

The Prometheus Global Media name, though, is not going away quickly. The developer account at Apple remains under that name, and the Prometheus name appears here in the Masthead – though the new corporate name is there, as well.

Here is a walk-through video of the latest issue inside the app – which, by the way, can be downloaded free of charge so that a reader can sample both the publication and its tablet edition:

Kantar report shows continued strength of iOS mobile platform in U.S.; BlackBerry market share tumbles

A new report from Kantar Worldpanel ComTech reveals Apple maintaining strong market share for its iOS mobile platform in the U.S., and that at both AT&T and Verizon, the iPhone remains king. For the 12 week period at the end of the year, iOS maintained a 51.2 percent market share, versus 44.2 percent for Android. RIM's market share for its BlackBerry OS dropped from 6.1 percent to 1.1 percent.

"Apple’s continual improvement is thanks to both the iPhone 5 and older models attracting various customer groups, from repeat Apple buyers, first time smartphone buyers and those coming from other smartphone brands," said Kantar Worldpanel ComTech analyst Mary-Ann Parlato.

"In particular, 36% of iOS sales were derived from other smartphone users over the last year. While this figure remains stable over time, the proportion of Android users moving towards the Apple brand increases. 19% of iOS sales over the last year were derived from Android users, compared to 9% in 2011," continued Parlato.

Apple's dominance is particularly noticeable at AT&T where Apple's platform's market share reached 74.7 percent of sales. But iOS also grew at Verizon, as well, reaching 58.8 percent in the report's 12-week period of 2012, versus 38.5 percent for Android, a drop from 47.5 percent during the same period of 2011.

Microsoft Windows market share barely ticked up, 2.06 percent in 2012, versus 2.2 percent during the same time period at the end of 2011.

Morning Brief: Freeze warning; RIM extends BlackBerry app deadline; Lee Enterprises sells off Kauai property to Honolulu newspaper company Oahu Publications

Welcome to Chicago, where it is minus 7 degrees Fahrenheit outside my door this morning (that's minus 21 Celsius for many TNM readers). If you ask me that is a ridiculous temperature.

There were no app updates in my iTunes account this morning, a reflection of the fact that yesterday was a holiday for many here in the U.S. Expect updates and new mobile and tablet apps to appear later in the morning as the review teams begin to release them into the various stores.

The BlackBerry Developer Blog yesterday announced that the company had received over 19,000 applications over the past weekend for apps designed from Blackberry World. RIM is conducting a promotion, the 10k Developer Commitment, to try and lure apps to the platform where it the app submitted earns over $1,000 in sales RIM will play the developer the difference between their actual sales and $10,000 – essentially guaranteeing the developer $10k in sales.

Because of the positive response, RIM will be extending the deadline for the promotion through 8pm EST today. (The BlackBerry World Vendor Portal deadline is 8pm ET February 18th.) Qualifying sales will occur between March 4 of this year through March 3 of 2014.

Lee Enterprises sold off The Garden Island newspaper to Oahu Publications, Inc. (OPI) late yesterday Hawaii time. The newspaper is located on the island of Kauai.
"In 1902, Kauai Publishing Company began printing The Garden Island, one of Hawaii’s most historic and enduring newspapers,” said Dennis Francis, OPI president and publisher of the Honolulu Star-Advertiser. “We want this newspaper to continue building its journalistic legacy and serving the people of Kauai. We feel strongly that Kauai residents need their own in-depth, locally-produced daily news."

As a result of the purchase, The Garden Island will now be printed in Honolulu and flown in each morning. OPI already flies in copies of the Honolulu paper each morning.

The announcement is already generating comments online from readers: "Good riddance to Lee Enterprises, but my heart goes out to all the pressmen and others who are losing their jobs," said on commenter. "Hopefully Hawaii-based ownership will be good for readers, but it would be nice if it were good for employees, as well."

Monday, January 21, 2013

Add another to the "What would Steve Jobs think?" list

Yes, Steve Jobs really is dead and the money people are running Apple now. Need proof? It's right there in the App Store where crap list this gets in, and the store is redesigned to screw the small, independent developers in favor of the big boys.

This is yet another app from Sergey Rudnev, who has numerous apps like this one, "Magazine ULaLa", in the App Store, all with one-star reviews because either the app doesn't work or the content is garbage. (Apparently "ULaLa" is what a Russian hears when a Frenchman says "oh là là".)

Another of Sergey Rudnev's apps is Magazine 'Gun' which promises to teach you how to buy used guns.

It's a shame what is happening to the App Store and to relations with independent developers. But Apple is a stock-price driven company now, so what do you expect?

Morning Brief: MLK Day and Inauguration Day 2 today; IHT and Blogsy app updates; S.F. Chronicle's '49ers Insider' digital magazine makes it to the Super Bowl

Sunday was Inauguration Day in the U.S., the Constitutionally mandated day the President is to be sworn in. But tradition holds that because the 20th fell on a Sunday, the actual public celebration of the Inauguration would be delayed until Monday. So today the President will reenact his swearing in on the steps of the Capitol.

Adding to the uniqueness, and oddness, of the day, today is Martin Luther King Day, a Federal holiday that is not universally observed by businesses as a paid day off, will only about a third of businesses giving their employees a paid day off to observe the holiday (a day where banks are closed and there is no postal service).

Is Apple one of those companies that continues to work the holiday? Hard to tell, but several app updates were released today so it appears so.

The New York Times Co.'s iPad app for the International Herald Tribune was updated today – mostly bug fixes – as was the app for Blogsy, the blogging app for the iPad. Blogsy has added support for Dutch, as well as some fixes for features tied to Tumblr.

While Americans may, or may not, celebrate either the Inaugural or MLK Day – those who don't probably sharing a lot in common, and are generally to be avoided – one non-holiday that is celebrated like a holiday is coming up: Super Bowl Sunday.
 photo 49ersInsider-Jan13-sm_zpsc37d2b8c.jpg
Yesterday the two teams that will play in the Super Bowl were determined and one of them has turned out to be the San Francisco 49ers. If recall, back in September TNM looked at three new tablet magazines focused on local NFL teams: BearDownload from the Chicago Tribune, Bears Extra from the Chicago Sun-Times, and 49ers Insider from the San Francisco Chronicle. All three digital magazines use the Mag+ platform, though the three business models were somewhat different.

Well, da Bears, as they are known in these parts, failed to make the playoffs this year so regular issues have ceased. The Tribune ended using the iPad app as of the last game of the season. But the Sun-Times has kept their digital magazine alive by publishing two issues since the last game in order to talk about the firing of the old coach, and then the naming of the new one.

The Hearst paper's app in S.F., of course, has continue right on publishing two issues a week – even during the week when the 49ers did not have a playoff game. Now there is two weeks before the Super Bowl and no doubt readers will continue to see two new issues released a week.

Was the experiment worth while? We'll probably know what the paper thinks soon as spring training will begin in a few weeks for the baseball season. As the San Francisco Giants won the World Series in 2012 it would be logical for sports department at the Chronicle to want to duplicate the 49ers digital magazine for the local, and very popular baseball team – unless they feel it is not worth the effort.