May 09, 2012

#Apps - nothing more than an #Apple scam?

Technology Review doesn't go quite that far, but it does say that apps for newspapers, and mobile versions of websites in general for newspapers, when locked into an app-based system, simply don't make sense.

The gist of the story is that they don't make sense on either the technological or financial end, and I'm going to focus on that second one.

TR publisher Jason Pontin says that many newspapers and magazines were engaged in little more than dreaming, over the idea that mobile versions of websites on an app-based system were seen as a "do-over" for everything they got wrong with the traditional web.

Why is that not surprising? Just as a traditional website isn't an electronic version of a hardcopy newspaper, especially due to the mix of Google and news aggregators, a mobile version isn't that, either. And, it's more akin by far to a website than to a hardcopy newspaper.

So, apps don't sell. Pontin has the details:
A recent Nielsen study reported that while 33 percent of tablet and smart-phone users had downloaded news apps in the previous 30 days, just 19 percent of users had paid for any of them. The paid, expensively developed publishers' app, with its extravagantly produced digital replica, is dead. 
That sounds pretty simple.

He says TR has junked them all for an HTML5 system that is less "constrained." Per that, this probably means that between this and expanding Android tablets, Apple's gravy train in the app world will probably start to dry up, too.

It also means, to get back to an old hobby horse of mine, newspapers and magazines need to look at paywalls. And real ones.

Don't listen to Jay Rosen or Clay Shirky. They're getting paid to tell you otherwise.

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