App Technical Issues Hindering Newspapers and Magazines Success on Tablets and Mobile Devices

From AdAge: Full story here

Magazines and Newspapers Need to Build Better Apps

Viewpoint: Significant Glitches Trouble Too Many Publishers’ Apps

Though it is still early in the migration process, Apple’s
iPad and other tablets appear to be a very good thing for the
publishing industry, allowing publishers to monetize their content while
avoiding the printing and distribution costs associated with
traditional print vehicles. And they’ve proved to be very good for
consumers, offering improved convenience and portability, not to mention
the ability to read in the dark.

The best app editions provide expanded service to their readers, making
it easy to share articles through email or social media, find or buy
products that are featured or advertised, and compensate for
disabilities with larger font sizes and audio.

But there is a large problem that threatens to limit publishers’
opportunity. Of the 5,000 magazine and newspaper iPad apps we’ve
evaluated for McPheters & Co.’s iMonitor service since April 2010,
far too many simply do not work well.

In the summer of 2010, about 45% of the apps we evaluated revealed
significant malfunctions. That proportion is falling, but not quickly
enough: Our analysis shows that about a third of all apps we have
evaluated still have at least one serious shortcoming.

The biggest issue revolves around authenticating print subscribers.
Authentication errors, in which the app fails to recognize existing
subscribers, are reported for almost half of the publications that offer
digital versions free to print subscribers.

But there are a host of other issues. Pages, video and audio can fail to
load. Links may be broken. Audio sometimes won’t turn off, leaving
users the choice of closing the app or continuing to listen against
their will. Spontaneous crashes are common. Downloads continue to be a
problem with many apps, particularly when consumers want to download
issues over a 3G network or without high-speed connections.

According to Mike Haney, chief product officer for Mag+, the
responsibility for malfunctions can reside with the publisher, the
development platform, or even the device if memory is constrained by too
many apps running simultaneously. In the case of authentication issues,
publishers’ subscription fulfillment houses can also be to blame.

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