Tag Archives: apple

Why Media Apps Aren’t as Good a Business as They Seem

Source: Jeff Bercovici
Story by: http://blogs.forbes.com/jeffbercovici/

It’s long been an article of faith among media optimists that the shift to digital publishing would be a good thing for publishers in the long run, freeing them of the burden of their biggest costs: paper, printing and postage.

That’s why I was surprised to hear David Link, founder and creative director of the digital design firm The Wonderfactory, say, at a recent conference, that producing and distributing app-based magazines for tablet computers and other mobile devices is as costly as putting them out with ink and paper, if not more so. The problem, he told me afterward, is bandwidth. Magazine apps are large downloads. One of the biggest, the early version of Wired’s iPad edition, was around half a gigabyte.

If you’re selling directly through Apple’s iTunes store, that’s no problem: Apple handles the download — in exchange for a 30 percent cut of the sale price. But most publishers aren’t satisfied with that arrangement, which leaves Apple in control of the customer relationship and the resulting data and, for now, limits them to selling single copies rather than subscriptions. However, says Link, “if they’re going through the subscription route and they want to circumvent that” — for instance, through Zinio, a digital publishing services provider with an app of its own — “then they actually have to pay for all that bandwidth.”

Over time, of course, bandwidth gets cheaper, and file compression gets better. Link says most magazine apps now fall in the range of 80 to 250 megabytes per issue, and “I’m hoping they’ll get down to 30 to 50 megs.” But set against that is the pressure to inflate them with ever more rich media. Just as publishers once conditioned readers to expect that all print content ought to be free online, now they’re teaching consumers to expect magazine apps that are tricked out with videos, interactive graphics and more. Link points out that Sports Illustrated’s iPad app, which Wonderfactory developed, features 50 to 100 photos per issue not found in the magazine. And all that extra content doesn’t produce itself, either: Link estimates that putting out an enhanced mobile edition requires two to five extra staffers.

None of this is to say media apps won’t be a great business at some point. But if and when they get there, it will be because of of the high rates publishers will be able to charge for rich, interactive, targeted advertising. Take that out of the equation and app-based publishing, like print publishing, is a cost-heavy, money-losing proposition.

Rupert Murdoch creates ‘iNewspaper’ – with the help of Steve Jobs

News Corp reportedly set to launch iPad news publication exclusively via download

Source: guardian.co.uk/

Rupert Murdoch, head of the media giant News Corp, and Steve Jobs, the chief executive of Apple, are preparing to unveil a new digital “newspaper” called the Daily at the end of this month, according to reports in the US media.

The collaboration, which has been secretly under development in New York for several months, promises to be the world’s first “newspaper” designed exclusively for new tablet-style computers such as Apple’s iPad, with a launch planned for early next year.

Intended to combine “a tabloid sensibility with a broadsheet intelligence”, the publication represents Murdoch’s determination to push the newspaper business beyond the realm of print.

According to reports, there will be no “print edition” or “web edition”; the central innovation, developed with assistance from Apple engineers, will be to dispatch the publication automatically to an iPad or any of the growing number of similar devices.

With no printing or distribution costs, the US-focused Daily will cost 99 cents (62p) a week.

According to the US elite fashion industry journal Women’s Wear Daily, the Murdoch-Jobs “newspaper” will be run from the 26th floor of the News Corp offices in New York, where 100 journalist have been hired, including Pete Picton, an online editor from the Sun, as one of three managing editors. The editor of the Daily has not been announced, but observers are assuming it will be Jesse Angelo, the managing editor of the New York Post and rising star in the News Corp firmament.

Angelo, who was at school with Murdoch’s son Lachlan, was formerly editor of the Post’s business section and has recruited the tabloid’s gossip columnist Richard Johnson to run the Daily’s Los Angeles bureau. Other staff include Sasha Frere-Jones, a music critic at the New Yorker, who will oversee arts and culture. News Corp’s pattern of hiring for the project suggests that video will be a major component of the new publication.

The 79-year-old Murdoch is said to have had the idea for the project after studying a survey that suggested readers spent more time immersed in their iPads than they did – comparatively speaking — on the internet, where unfocused surfing is typical.

Sources say Murdoch is committed to the project in part because he believes that the Daily, properly executed, will demonstrate that consumers are willing to pay for high- quality, original content online.

Murdoch believes the iPad is going to be a “game changer” and he has seen projections that there will be 40 million iPads in circulation by the end of 2011. A source said: “He envisions a world in which every family has a iPad in the home and it becomes the device from which they get their news and information. If only 5% of those 40 million subscribe to the Daily, that’s already two million customers.”

But Murdoch’s success with internet ventures is mixed. The Times recently said it had gained more than 100,000 paying customers for its web edition, while the Wall Street Journal now has more than two million readers behind a partial paywall. But MySpace, once the leading social networking site, which Murdoch paid $580m for in 2005, is now an also-ran in the field, and Murdoch is running counter to current thinking that web publications need print editions to justify themselves to advertisers.

Apple has been expected to announce a subscription plan for newspapers based on the model of its iTunes music download service, but some publishers have been unwilling to let Apple in as an intermediary or let it control pricing the way iTunes has done in the music business.

“Obviously, Steve Jobs sees this as a significant revenue stream for Apple in the future,” Roger Fidler, head of digital publishing at the Donald W Reynolds Journalism Institute, told the San Jose Mercury News recently.

And with Apple expected to dominate the tablet market until compelling competitors are introduced, Murdoch may have no choice but to ride with Jobs. According to Women’s Wear Daily, Jobs is “a major fan” of the newsprint patriarch: “When the project is announced, don’t be surprised if you see Steve Jobs onstage with Rupert Murdoch, welcoming the Daily to the app world.”

• This article was amended on 22 November 2010. The original described Sasha Frere-Jones as a former music critic at the New Yorker. This has been corrected.