Friday, April 12, 2013

TRVL celebrates the publication of its 100th digital edition inside its popular tablet magazine app

The popular travel tablet-only digital magazine TRVL is celebrating the publication of its 100th edition. The digital magazine publishes a new issue every Thursday with the 100th issue featuring Tim Allen, the former BBC photographer.

TRVL was created by Jochem Wijnands and Michel Elings in September 2010 as a weekly digital magazine. "I don't think a monthly magazine works because you never use the algorithms of the App Store. When you publish new content, the App Store ranks you higher the next day, so when you publish, you are in a good position for the weekend. When you only do this once a month, you never use your advantage," co-founder Michel Elings told MediaShift last summer.

After two years of publishing using the digital publishing solution of a major software company TRVL started to look for something else. "So then we starting developing our own software out of frustration with what was available," co-founder Jochem Wijnands told TNM in December. "If there was an acceptable software around about a year ago we would have seriously considered it."

In November 2012 TRVL launched on Prss, the cloud-based publishing platform created by the TRVL team.

"For TRVL it is only just beginning. We have an amazing publishing tool, a great and very loyal readership and advertising is starting to come in. We'll grow our readership, grow our products and expand our distribution to all other digital devices," Wijnands said in the company's 100th issue announcement.

Today TRVL claims 1,000,000 app installs and has consistently been a five-star application based on reader reviews inside the Apple App Store.

"While 100 issues and 1 million subscribers are significant milestones for TRVL, the figure that inspires us most is the five-star rating we continue to have from our readers," said Kieran Meeke, editor in chief. "Our passion remains telling the story of each destination in a way that brings it alive and reveals our common humanity - something that obviously resonates with the TRVL community around the world."

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Mobiography iPhone Photography Mag : New UK tablet photography magazine supports author's blog

When Apple first launched the iPad one of the things that was immediately apparent was how well the tablet displayed photography. Publishers building tablet editions could see how much their photos popped 'off the page' – and readers were instantly impressed with the appearance of digital magazines, no matter whether native or replica.

Recently a number of tablet-only photgraphy magazines have been launched into the Apple Newsstand – Future plc's Photography Week and Focus Publishing's line of titles including Exposures, to name just two – and each offers stunningly beautiful photographs, as well as native tablet design.

Another tablet-only magazine from UK photographer Andrew Butler, Mobiography iPhone Photography Mag has been released into the Apple Newsstand and it uses a platform familiar to loyal TNM readers, MagCast. (See the post below this for another example!)

"I was motivated to produce the tablet magazine to support my Mobiography.net blog which focusses on mobile and iPhone photography," Butler told me via email. "With the continued improvements in smartphone technology and people's increasing use of social media channels – such as Instagram, Flickr and Facebook (to name but a few) to share the images – this subject has really caught my imagination (especially as I am a keen photographer but find a bulky dslr camera a pain to carry round). With the blog I wanted to explore this field further and use it to connect with and promote iphoneographers that interested me."

"The iPad magazine allowed me to take the idea behind this onto a mobile device. I felt that as more and more people are using tablets this would be a natural progression and something that in the future could grow into something bigger," Butler said.

Like many of tablet magazine that use MagCast, the digital publication was designed specifically for the iPad, and then a PDF is uploaded to MagCast. Any interactive elements are added add that point.

MagCast does not allow for landscape orientation, so the platform is a little problematical for a photography magazine. Butler, when adding a photograph in landscape simply places it sideways, along with the caption, and lets the reader rotate their iPad to view.

"I designed the magazine myself as my career started out in graphic design working on magazines and brochures. I then progressed to be a web designer/developer and then moved into the area of internet marketing," Butler said.

"The design of the magazine was important to me as I wanted it to have a quality feel to it. I hope I have managed to carry this off."

Mobiography iPhone Photography mag costs readers $4.99 for single issues. A two-month subscription costs $3.99.

"The magazine will be a bi-monthly release with a view to possibly going monthly at a later date. As I get into a groove with its production I will also be looking to release one off specials," Butler said.

Australian Adam Guthrie chooses a PDF vendor solution to successfully build a new digital magazine designed specifically for the iPad, 'I Feel Good Vegan Magazine'

For many citizen publishers, finding an affordable, easy to use digital publishing platform to launch their own digital magazine is the holy grail. For many of these first time publishers, using native design tools are not option as they are unfamiliar with Indesign or Quark. Others that are – like me, for instance – have pretty much novices when in comes to design software, barely able to build a template, and hardly the equal of most professional art directors.

For many would-be digital publishers, the goal is simply to fulfill an ambition to see a digital publication in the App Store under their name. Quite a number are choosing to use the MagCast platform to build their magazine apps.

I Feel Good Vegan Magazine is a typical example. The app is the work of Australian Adam Guthrie, who his biography states has written articles for the Natural Health and Vegetarian Life Magazine, and who has taught cooking classes and been in the restaurant business (and, yes, is a vegetarian).

Readers will be able to buy single issues inside the Apple Newsstand app for $5.99, but also subscribe for $1.99 per week, with a one week free trial. (A weekly publishing schedule is quite ambitious, don't you think?)

MagCast could, and is, being used to create replica editions, but many are choosing to design their pages for the tablet format then use the PDF solution to launch their apps. PDF vendors are a dime a dozen, and no matter what BS they wish to tell you, the only real difference between them are price, and to a lesser degree, features. MagCast apps appear pretty free of bugs, and the growing number of citizen publishers using the solution attests to its ease of use.

While PDF solutions allow for embedding of audio, video and links, it doesn't allow for scrolling text boxes and other features seen in higher priced native digital publishing platforms. But for many designers, simplicity is the goal, if only because the alternative would be too difficult to produce anyways.

In the case of this new digital magazine, the platform does present a few problems, however. MagCast only supports portrait. Since this is a food magazine, this means that using landscape for recipes and videos is not possible. My own iPad cover only allows me to stand up the tablet in landscape, for instance.

The lack of native tablet features also limits the options for how the publisher wants to handle recipes inside a story. Many native tablet editions embed them right in the story, popping up when a button is tapped. Here, the navigation has to be simply moving from one page to the other.

Despite these limitation, or maybe because of them, plenty of new digital magazine publishers are choosing these types of simple app solutions. And because the end product is actually designed for the tablet, readers can enjoy them without pinch-to-zoom or reaching for their reading glasses.

Morning Brief: Greek unemployment hits 27.2% in January; PC shipments fall sharply in Q1 despite launch of Microsoft's new OS, Windows 8

The unemployment rate in Greece hit another record high in January, according to EnetEnglish, the English language website of Eleftherotypia. The rate now stands at 27.2 percent., with youth unemployment now at 59.3 percent.

Last January of 2012 unemployment stood at 21.5 percent, around 15 percent in January 2011 – meaning that the rate of unemployment in Greece is increasing at a rate of 6 percent per year. It is inconceivable that this can continue for much longer without serious consequences for both the Greek democracy and the Eurozone, in general.



International Data Corporation (IDC) reported yesterday that global PC shipments declined by 13.9 percent compared to the same quarter in 2012, far worse than the forecast decline of 7.7 percent.

"At this point, unfortunately, it seems clear that the Windows 8 launch not only failed to provide a positive boost to the PC market, but appears to have slowed the market," said Bob O'Donnell, IDC Program Vice President, Clients and Displays. "While some consumers appreciate the new form factors and touch capabilities of Windows 8, the radical changes to the UI, removal of the familiar Start button, and the costs associated with touch have made PCs a less attractive alternative to dedicated tablets and other competitive devices. Microsoft will have to make some very tough decisions moving forward if it wants to help reinvigorate the PC market."

"Although the reduction in shipments was not a surprise, the magnitude of the contraction is both surprising and worrisome," said David Daoud, IDC Research Director, Personal Computing. "The industry is going through a critical crossroads, and strategic choices will have to be made as to how to compete with the proliferation of alternative devices and remain relevant to the consumer. Vendors will have to revisit their organizational structures and go to market strategies, as well as their supply chain, distribution, and product portfolios in the face of shrinking demand and looming consolidation.

HP shipments fell more than 23 percent in Q1, by far the worst performing company in the IDC report. Dell shipments fell 10 percent globally and 14 percent in the United States.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Tribune Interactive releases a subscription-only replica edition app from Olive Software for the Chicago Tribune

Seven months ago both the Chicago Tribune and the Chicago Sun-Times launched competing tablet magazines for their coverage of the local football team. Both papers were, it seemed at the time, committing to native digital platforms, and eager to duke it out inside the Apple Newsstand.

But things changed in a hurry: today the Tribune is on the shopping block, and the digital team has pulled all but one of its native tablet editions out of the Newsstand. Spending money on new digital publications, or even ones that support their print ones, will be for a new owner to deal with.

Today Tribune Interactive released a replica edition app, Chicago Tribune -- Digital Edition for iPad, that was made by Olive Software. It's a head scratching move, and one that simply wouldn't be made by any digital media executive concerned the future – with the place up for sale who really knows what happens next.

The app is completely locked down: someone who downloads the app can not buy anything through it, one needs to be an existing print or digital subscriber (DigitalPlus is $14.99 a month).

The app is horribly old fashioned looking, which is saying something considering that the entire tablet publishing platform is only three years old. In other words, the app looks like one of those websites one can see when browsing around in the Wayback Machine.

Combined with the news that the ABM is merging into the division of another association, the release of this app makes for a truly depressing day. If there are any employees left at Tribune Interactive I wish them the best of luck, truly.

B2B media trade association American Business Media to be merged into the SIIA's Content Division

Tough times continue for American B2B publishers, and the consequence of consolidation and private equity company ownership has taken its toll on the industry's main trade association, American Business Media (ABM). As a result, the association said today that it would, following a vote of its members, merge into the Content Division of the Software & Information Industry Association (SIIA). The SIIA is the main trade association for the software and digital content industry, and some of its members overlap with the ABM.

"The reality is, we can no longer remain a standalone association. We have thoroughly investigated ways to expand, downsize or specialize to remain standalone. Unfortunately, these options neither work financially nor move the industry forward," the ABM said on a new website set up for the merger. "By merging ABM with the Content division of SIIA, we can preserve the media and advertising model while creating direct access to expertise in business information, paid content, technology, and more."

"By joining forces, we can bring the entire industry together and magnify opportunities for connection -- so the right people can connect in the right environments and bring innovations to market," said SIIA President Ken Wasch.

But the move essentially spells the end of the ABM as the industry representative of B2B media in the U.S. It's hard to shed a tear for the demise of an association that seemed more like a vehicle for promoting content marketing for brands, or selling virtual trade shows, than promoting the interests of B2B publishers.

Ultimately, though, the irrelevant industry events at warm weather resorts, or the lack of meaningful services the association provided its members, can not be blamed for forcing the ABM to make this move. When so much of the industry has contracted, or fallen into the hands of bankers with no long term interest in the industry, it is hard to fund a trade association made up of paying members or associate members. Like the merger of the old classified advertising association into the NAA, this move is simply a reflection of the industry's current strength.

(Not surprisingly, one of the first sessions to take place at the ABM's annual conference to be held alter this month is entitled "Competing in the Private Equity Age as an Independent.")

The past few years, which have been so hard on all publishers, have been especially hard on B2B publishers in the U.S. Ad pages were down 8.79 percent through November (the ABM still has not released year-end numbers for 2012). Further, U.S. B2B publishers have been lagging far behind their consumer counterparts in launching new mobile and tablet publications, with only a handful of publishers seemingly committed to the new platforms.

American Airlines launches its first app for American Way into the Apple Newsstand, a native tablet edition

If there is a business segment less respected by the American public than the U.S. airline industry than I'd like to hear of it. The term forward thinking and airlines are rarely seen together in the same sentence. Both most airlines have been quick to see the potential value of mobile devices –  launching smartphone apps that allow travelers to book seats, check on their flight status, and increasingly, to read the airline's in flight magazine on their tablets.

One of the last U.S. carriers to launch a tablet edition is American Airlines, but yesterday the airline's first tablet magazine app appeared inside the Apple Newsstand.

Launched as American Airlines Magazines, the app will probably be the home of whatever publications the airlines wish to have available for its flying customers. For right now one issue of American Way is inside – I have to think that the reason for this is simply that the publisher, AA Publishing, has been waiting for the app to make its way through the Apple app review process.

There are other tell tale signs that the app team in not quite done with this app launch: the screenshots seen in the App Store are of the print edition, not the digital edition actually seen in the app itself; and there is no in flight shopping publication, something generally seen on board airplanes.

The app and its content is free, of course, and that first issue (dated January 1, 2013) weighs in at 82 MB – just small enough, probably, to be able to download it before boarding. It's hard to tell if this first issue was an experiment or a final product – it seems short on content, and without many of the items one would find in the print edition. Also, there is no advertising.

The tablet edition shies away from multimedia elements, a good idea since the designers have to assume (at least for now) that the reader would not have WiFi access. Besides, it probably would annoy some travelers to have their seating companions playing videos from the in flight magazine without ear buds in.

But the tablet edition can be seen in landscape, which seems like an unnecessary way to bloat the publication file size. There are plenty of other features that could be added to this digital magazine such as puzzles, Sudoku, etc. But this is probably one of those tablet edition apps that I should return to in a few weeks to see if any new material has been added to it, and if the publisher has some interesting new ways to use the Newsstand app now that it has been launched.





Morning Brief: WSJ updates new Newsstand app, improves video quality; T-Mobile introduces iPhone upgrade program to lure new customers


The Wall Street Journal, which moved it stand-alone app into the Apple Newsstand at the end of last year, today issued an app update to fix bugs associated with the move into the Newsstand. The update also upgrades the quality of the video streaming inside app, raising it to HD quality.

The app has received very high marks from recent reviewers inside the App Store – ignoring those reviewers shocked, shocked that one would have to pay a subscription. The only real complaint, and one that app developers might consider, is that the app still does not give the reader access to commenting and that the app remains fairly slow.

Google, which updated both its iOS version of its Chrome browser and its Google Search app, today issued a minor update to Google+ Local.

The updates are coming a bit slower now as we are in that middle area between iOS introductions. Apple released iOS 6 on September 19 of last year and the release seemed to cause havoc with many apps, especially those using the Adobe DPS. But the updates have been made and now many developers are waiting on WWDC to see what Apple has in store for iOS 7. Many expect that iOS 7 may be a big update of the interface, something that is sure to mean developers will have to once again scramble to make sure their apps are in good working order.



T-Mobile starts selling the iPhone on Friday and it is getting aggressive in its efforts to attract new customers. Today the company announced that is offering new customers a trade-inb program where they can bring their iPhone 4 or 4S to the carrier and exchange it for an iPhone 5 at no cost, and get a $120 credit towards the monthly device fee. The normal price T-Mobile will be charging is $100, plus an additional $20 per month charge for two years.

The biggest obstacle T-Mobile faces remains, however, its network coverage which continues to have huge gaps in it in rural areas.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

New digital magazine from Spain suffers app and server issues that are bound to frustrate potential readers


Sometimes its good to be reminded that there are other decisions that go into selecting a digital publishing platform other than just whether it will produce a native tablet edition or a replica editions – things like server storage, download speeds, app library design and other factors can be just as important.

This new tablet edition from for Moto1 Magazine from 1mas1 ComunicaciĆ³n y GestiĆ³n SL is a good example. The screenshots show a native tablet edition designed to be read in landscape. The digital magazine is free of charge and should be a good reading experience but sadly I'll never know do to serious issues with the app.

The app, when installed, opens to a rather spare looking library page – clearly this app has not used one of the major digital publishing solutions (who knows, it might be completely native and was built right in Xcode). Tapping the download button the issue shows that the download will be 125 MB.

What followed was an almost comical attempt to get the digital issue to download. At first nothing happened, then after a while it started to download – at about 1 MB every ten minutes. Then it simply failed altogether. I never did get beyond 4 MB.

Ultimately it is possible that this tablet magazine will be excellent, but I'll never know, I've deleted the app, as a lot of readers frustrated with the experience may decide to do, as well.

This kind of thing happens, even with reputable vendors. One publisher told me that his experience with a large digital platform company, a replica maker, was so bad it forced him to rethink his entire digital publishing strategy. Generally the more well known companies have their back-end systems in good working order – he found, though, that this wasn't always the case.

New Outside LIVE augmented reality app goes live with the May print issue; print, online and tablet products will all be enhanced with the new story telling capabilities

Coordinating app launches can sometimes be difficult, as many publishers know. If you launch an app into the store before your magazine is ready the app will open up to an empty library. In the case of the new OutsideLIVE app released in March early downloaders were left to wonder what the app was supposed to do. But with the publication of the May issue, out now, downloaders will finally be able to use the augmented reality app to bring the May issue to life.

The app, powered by Aurasma, allows the reader to point their iPhone or iPad (or iPod touch) at the print magazine page and see supplemental video content. Until the May issue was published the user wouldn't have seen much of anything, which is why early reviewers seemed confused. But the May issue is filled with both advertising and editorial content that takes advantage of the new augmented reality app.

Six articles in the print edition have a logo placed on them to tell the reader of the added digital content including a story featuring interviews with survivors of the 1963 American Mount Everest Expedition and video footage of Spanish endurance star Kilian Jornet.

Ads that take advantage of the OutsideLIVE app include Birkenstock, The North Face and Columbia Sportswear.

Now that Outside has the capabilities of enhancing their print edition with added multimedia content the challenge, editor Michael Roberts told me, "is that there are so many ideas."

"Outside covers a pretty fascinating and engaging world. One of the benefits of what we do, and the world we cover is that there is such incredible video that's coming back from these places all over the world from these explorers, adventurers and athletes we work with. It gives us so much to work with," Roberts said.

"We have to decide what will play best in which environment," Roberts said, referring to the fact that Outside has not only a print edition, but a robust website, as well as a native tablet edition which uses the Mag+ platform.

"OutsideLIVE will play a unique role within our ecosystem of content that we provide. You are engaging with people reading and loving the print magazine and you're picking those moments where you see real opportunity to give them a deeper level of engagement, a unique kind of story telling that's going to jump and connect right off those print stories."

Outside has had a native tablet edition, Outside+ Magazine, inside the Apple App Store since the summer of 2011. That app was then updated to move it into the Newsstand when Apple launched that feature in October of 2011, then retina display support was added in April of 2012.

Comparing the May tablet edition with the print magazine seen through the OutsideLIVE app is an interesting exercise. As you'll see in the video below, there may be differences, but each product contains plenty of multimedia content. The tablet edition is not a hybrid – that is, the print ads are not automatically reproduced in the tablet edition. In fact, theres is only one ad to be seen, for Fjord Norway. The ad, as you can see in the video below, contains embedded video (which is very nicely incorporated into the page).

The print edition, combined with the OutsideLIVE app, now actually has more multimedia advertising than the tablet edition – as strange as that sounds. But with the introduction of augmented reality to the print magazine, this might help the sales team sell more tablet edition advertising knowing that there is multimedia content that can be added to the tablet ad creative.

Morning Brief: U.S. consumer magazines see continued slippage in print ad pages in Q1, though rate of declines moderate; Fairfax execs prove rather thin skinned

If magazine publishers were hoping that 2013 would open with a bang many were sorely disappointed as the MPA's PIB report showed that ad pages fell 4.9 percent in Q1. On the bright side, the decline was the smallest in a while, as publishers saw ad pages fall 8.2 percent in 2012, and 3.2 percent in 2011.

Some titles saw good growth in Q1: AARP-The Magazine was up 11.5 percent, Allure was up 8.2, Bon Appetit up 37.7 percent, Eating Well up 35.8 percent, GQ up 11.2 percent, Harper's Bazaar up 23.4 percent, Motor Trend up 31.6 percent, and Women's Health up 24.4 percent.

Magazine titles that saw declines include Architectural Digest down 15.5 percent, Bloomberg Businessweek 32.6 percent, Bride's 49.9 percent, The Economist down 28.6 percent, Forbes down 19.6 percent, Road & Track down 42.6 percent, and Shape down 19.5 percent.

The MPA, in its own post on the report, stressed that magazines "now encompass myriad of platforms," and there is a lot of truth in that statement. Unfortunately, with most larger consumer magazines producing tablet editions that duplicate the ads seen in print, there is not much evidence that print magazines are seeing ad gains in their digital editions. On the other hand, the industry now has a growing segment that remains invisible to most reports: digital-only publications that have new advertising appearing in interactive forms. My guess that compared to print, these digital ads are not amounting to a great deal of "space" and probably even less revenue. Nonetheless, this is a growing area.



"Today’s rubbishy “First Person” sponsored editorial in The Australian Financial Review is a perfect example of why the business sections of The Sydney Herald and The Age should not be merged with the Financial Review Group — a decision announced by Fairfax last week," wrote Paddy Manning, a business journalist with Fairfax about the advertorial.

The column appeared on Crikey, an Australian electronic magazine. Unfortunately for Mr. Manning, the digital magazine is not one of those industry sites no one reads (like TNM). As a result, Manning was sacked by his employer, according ABC News (Australia).

I don't know what to say about this other than it seems odd that a media executive would be so thin skinned about an opinion piece. I mean, really?



I'm sure there were a lot of Apple followers who were very curious about what its senior vice president of Apple Retail, Ron Johnson, could do for J.C. Penney. But after only 17 months at the helm, the company’s board has replaced Johnson with Myron E. Ullman III, the former CEO of the company. It is a head scratching move by the retailer, which many thought was eager to make big changes - but then again, maybe the old brand really wasn't that ready.

In any case, now the talk is whether Johnson will return to Apple. Knowing corporate politics my guess is that the new Apple CEO, Tim Cook, will probably say "gee, Ron, guess that move didn't work out. Well, best of luck to you."

Monday, April 8, 2013

Former MPA executive launches 'Thin Reads' – the first website dedicated to news and reviews of e-book singles

The e-book singles format has been a rapidly growing new format, and now it has a website dedicated to monitoring its growth, reviewing content and offering news, interviews and profiles of authors. Thin Reads is the work of the MPA's former head of communications, Howard Polskin, who will act as CEO and editor-in-chief of the new website.

"This is a new form of content, there is no question about," Polskin told me this afternoon. "It's something that is longer than a magazine article and shorter than a book. I call it eBook singles."

Thin Reads also has its own rapidly growing database of more than 700 e-book singles available dating back to 2010, according to the website's launch announcement. The database includes title, publication date, publisher, author, description, length, and retail platform, and tracks e-book singles available on Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble and Apple's iBookstore.

"Tt's clear that because of mobile devices, the proliferation of mobile devices – like iPhones, smartphones, tablets – that consumer want to buy and access more types of content and eBooks singles are the perfect form of content for a mobile, on-the-go consumer," said Polskin.

Polskin started to get the idea to launch Thin Reads a little over a year ago while attending an MPA conference.

Howard Polskin
"I was in San Francisco meeting with a lot of digital companies for the magazine industry's annual conference and someone said you've got to meet this guy John Tayman who founded this company Byliner devoted to eBook singles. So met him at the Fairmont Hotel and he told me all about this new form of content, because I was thinking I was going to have a panel on this, and thought it was something that magazine publishers might be interested in – it's both a threat and an opportunity for magazines," Polskin said.

"So right before getting on the flight to go home I downloaded a bunch of eBook singles on my Kindle and I was hooked. When I got off the plane I wanted for read more things. So who is telling me what's good, what's a good book?"

"When I left MPA in December it was almost at the exact same time that The New York Times came out with the eBook singles division with their first effort called Snow Fall by John Branch. So I said 'wow, this is the moment in time."

The Thin Reads' database lists more than 700 e-book singles currently on the market and is updated as soon as new e-book singles are released. Among the findings of the database, according to Thin Reads:
  • 54% of all e-book singles available in the database are listed as Original, which means they were created especially as short works of non-fiction or fiction intended to be read on an electronic platform for its original release.
  • 12% of all e-book singles available in the database are listed as Encore, which means they were originally published or presented previously in another format. 2% of all e-book singles in the database are listed as Encore+, which means that new or updated content was added to a story that was previously published.
  • 30% of all e-book singles in the database have not yet been categorized because the information was not available.
  • 31% of e-book singles in the database are fiction. 69% are non-fiction. Narrative non-fiction accounted for 20% of all e-book singles in the database.
  • More than 150 publishers are releasing content to the e-book single market, according to the findings of the Thin Reads database. Publishers include: The New York Times Company, Penguin, ProPublica, Random House, St. Martin’s Press, Byliner, The Atavist, HarperCollins, American Express Publishing, GQ Magazine, National Geographic Books and TED Conferences.
  • Byliner, Penguin and New Word City are among the companies that have published the most e-book singles, with more than 40 titles each.
Polskin said that the site will soon add video and other types of content as it developers over the next year.

Polskin spent eight years at the MPA where he was involved in implementing the organization's name change to MPA--the Association of Magazine Media. Prior to joining the MPA Polskin was V.P., Corporate Communications at Sony, and before that spent over five years as a veep at CNN.

Cable channel HBO issues update to its streaming app HBO GO, update adds AirPlay multitasking capability

The big subscription cable channel HBO has today issued an update for its universal iOS app, HBO GO. The update adds a pretty cool new feature, AirPlay multitasking.

Basically it works like this: before the update you could stream movies and shows from the HBO GO app to an Apple TV, but if you wanted to do anything else with the iPhone, iPod touch or iPad you'd have to stop streaming. Now, the stream won't be ended if you decide to pop open the browser and check out exactly who that actor is you're seeing on the TV.

For most TV cable owners who subscribe to HBO, the idea of streaming programming to their own TV seems rather absurd as HBO offers its own on-demand channel. But if you are traveling and want to stream a movie onto a friend's TV, the app comes in handy. Now it is even better.

Last month HBO's Chief Executive Richard Plepler said that the service may soon offer its content via ISPs, something I'm sure many cable companies would not be happy about. The cost would be an extra $10 or $15 added to the cost of a consumer's Internet fees. "We would have to make the math work," Plepler said, according to Reuters. As more and more consumers decide to cut their TV cable cords, the dream of ala cart pricing for television services seems to be slowing becoming a reality.

Global design firm RTKL launches a digital magazine app into the Apple Newsstand containing a natively designed annual publication 'Work In Progress'

Can there be any better example of why magazine and newspaper publishers should design for tablets and mobile natively than looking at how a design firm sees these platforms?

I think it is safe to say that when a reputable design firm designs a building for – say, Menlo Park – it doesn't pull out some plans from a building it designed that was for New York City, right? It considers the environment where the end product will reside.

Animated 'cover' for Works in Progress
So when a global design firm creates a new digital magazine for the Apple Newsstand it would logically consider what the platform can offer, how readers will read the product, etc. In other words, expect a native tablet publication not a port-over from a print design.

That is precisely what RTKL has launched into the Apple Newsstand with its new tablet magazine published under the app name RTKL Publications. The app and its contents are free of charge and the app currently contains only 'Works In Progress' which is an annual collection of ideas and design concepts.

The digital magazine weighs in at just over 300 MB and is filled with animations, pop up captions and features and plenty of video.

The digital magazine is not any larger, file wise, because the designers decided to create a magazine that is to be read in landscape, which is best for video. The Adobe DPS appears to have been the platform choice here.

Because the app supports the Apple Newsstand readers will be able to subscribe, though what RTKL is put into the app is anyone's guess. Most companies that decide to launch an app such as this one that is really launched for marketing purposes generally decide on creating a stand-alone app, but the company probably has plans for more publications to appear and now have an app in the Newsstand ready to accept them.

CEO of Scoopkit replies to TNM post on newspaper apps abandoning their own digital advertising futures

We get mail: the CEO of Scoopkit, NYC developer of replica edition apps for newspapers, which then appear under the Scoopkit name inside the App Store, has responded to this post which appeared last month – As many newspapers abandon the ad model digital publishing vendors are there to pick it back up and profit.

I am a reader of your blog and fan of your passion for our industry, especially when it comes to digital strategies.

I'm also the CEO of Scoopkit and it was great to see you mention our company in one of your posts last month. You brought up several important issues, but when you talked about Scoopkit's business model, I found that some aspects would deserve a closer look and some clarification.

Lets start with this: "new apps appear in the Apple App Store – 54 as of this morning – all appearing under the name Scoopkit, not that of the newspaper publisher".

Having been in the industry for a while we know that most publishers spent years building up their brand and are rightfully very protective about it, I would be too. When Scoopkit partners with a publisher and creates an App for one of its publications we make sure the App is published under the _publisher's_ brand name. Take "Coastal View News" as an example for a great publication brand: Readers who search for "Coastal View News" on the iTunes store, will see the Costal View News App come up as the first search results (see screenshot). The App Logo, colors, description, and everything else can branded and customized by the publisher who owns the brand.

"Scoopkit" only appears as the responsible "Developer" for the App. This is an important distinction, because it means that the Publisher remains in full control of their brand at all times, while Scoopkit's job is to take care of the technical details that come with developing, submitting and maintaining an App in dozens of App Stores on countless different devices. What I'm getting at is: Apps appear under the publishers' name and brand.

Another statement I'd like to look at is "the newspaper publisher makes nothing from the apps, nor do they get charged anything.". You are absolutely right in the latter part, the publishers do not get charged anything. Both, the publisher and Scoopkit however make a lot from the Apps: They are a great tool for publishers to regain relevance among younger demographics, service readers outside their distribution area; sales people love them to show off ads to local advertisers or sell digital ads themselves. Last but not least, App usage can be reported as digital circulation. For Scoopkit, every additional App increases our ad network's reach, makes us more attractive to national advertisers and allows us to continue to improve the user experience.

Speaking of user experience, you highlight an important aspect: "The apps, well, they are simply PDF of most broadsheet newspapers without any attempt made to make them interactive." This is a key point for us and a valuable lesson we learned from our publishing partners: Initially we worked on both, purpose built, interactive Apps and print-replica versions. Very soon however our publishing partners told us that big-budget interactive apps just weren't the best way to go for them. Here is why: Creating interactive content and re-layouting an entire newspaper for several different tablet devices is a pretty expensive exercise. It can take 5-10 man days per issue. At a rate of 4 issues a month that amounts to 1 additional FTE, a substantial cost item for the businesses we work with.

Thinking about the reader experience is equally important: We constantly ask users what they expect from a local-free-paper App and how we can improve our product.

The responses we get paint a very clear picture: Readers prefer tablet-tailored layouts for reading in-depth articles in the New York Times or the WSJ. When it comes to their community paper however, they feel more at home flicking through the familiar print layout, finding the obituaries at the same spot they have always been and looking over pages of restaurant coupons on a nice full-screen display.

Given all the above, I see a very different future than: "[...] the relationship can not last. [..] with all the revenue going to the vendor, and neither circulation or ad revenue coming in, the newspaper's days are numbered."

There are countless opportunities for publishers to create digital revenues, from obvious ones like selling premium ads (with way higher CPMs than simple web banners) to more creative approaches like coupon referrals or in-app purchases. Nobody has found the holy grail yet though and we are all still learning. This is why we emphasize partnerships. For a publisher, teaming up with a partner reduces the investment risk (or in the case of Scoopkit removes it all together).

For companies like us, working with a large number of publishers gives us the opportunity to learn a lot faster and enable everyone to succeed in monetizing digital content a lot sooner.

"Finally then, without the newspaper the vendor has no audience to sell themselves." I couldn't agree more, and thats why I believe we are in a relationship thats made to last.

Please feel free to post this reply on your website, I'm sure there are lots of opinions out there and I enjoy the discussion.

– Christian Fruehwirth, CEO, Scoopkit

Newspaper revenue down 2% in 2012, slowest decline in years, though ad revenue continues to fall sharply

The Newspaper Association of America (NAA) this morning reported that in 2012 newspaper revenue declined 2 percent as newspapers found new money in charging for access to digital news products. Advertising, though, continues to fall, another 6 percent in 2012.

The industry pulled in $38.6 billion in 2012 compared with $39.5 billion in revenue in 2011, according the NAA, helped by a 5 percent increase in circulation revenue. But the NAA also reported new services such as digital consulting for local business and e-commerce transactions grew by 8 percent, a category of revenue the NAA said "barely existed a few years ago."

"America’s newspaper media are transforming themselves,” said Caroline Little, President and CEO of the NAA. "In virtually every community they serve, newspapers have the biggest newsrooms, the best-known brands and significant audience market share. Now they are building on those to find new ways to serve audiences and local businesses."

Here are the NAA's core findings according to their statement:

  • NAA projects that of the $38.6 billion in total revenue in 2012, $18.9 billion came from print advertising, $3.4 billion from digital advertising, $2.9 billion from advertising from direct marketing/niche and non-daily publications, $10.4 billion from circulation and $3 billion from new revenue sources. (The projections do not include revenue from weekly papers not owned by daily newspaper companies.)
  • Combined digital revenue (from circulation, advertising, e-commerce, digital marketing and other sources) made up 11% of total revenue in 2012 for the 13 companies that broke out this data, though that varied by company. It was as high as 29% and as low as 8%.
  • The 5% overall growth in circulation revenue was the first gain in this category for the newspaper industry since 2003. Within that total, for the companies supplying detailed breakdowns, digital-only circulation revenue grew 275%; print and digital bundled circulation revenue grew 499%. Largely as a result of more organizations shifting toward bundling print and online into combined access subscriptions, print-only circulation revenue declined 14%.
  • Within the 8% growth in new revenue sources, revenue from digital agency consulting for local businesses grew 91%. E-commerce revenue grew 20%.
  • Mobile ad revenue, while small (less than 1% of total revenue), doubled (up 100%), according to the papers that broke that data out separately.
  • When revenue from print, digital, niche and delivery of preprints outside of newspapers is combined (based on data from 15 companies that provided such breakouts), total advertising revenue made up 65% of overall revenue in 2012. Within that figure, traditional print newspaper advertising fell 9% and now makes up 46% of total revenue. Digital advertising increased 5% and now makes up 11%; pure-play digital advertising (digital only) increased 20%