When it comes to reading, “I have no time” is an excuse that has been dealt yet another blow. The New Yorker, which published its first issue in 1925, recently expanded its mobile platform by launching an iPhone app. The app has every story readers will find in the print edition, as well as special audio and video features previously found only in the tablet edition. Because readers can now access digital versions of the magazine on both iPad and iPhone, time spent waiting in line or riding the train can now be spent reading.
The magazine, in a clear effort to garner strong initial downloads, decided to give its users a little taste by offering the first issue for free. Going forward, readers can download weekly editions for $5.99 every Monday, while an annual subscription will set them back $59.99. Current print, iPad and Kindle Fire subscribers will, however, receive full access to the mobile app. The mobile edition weighs about 23 megabytes as compared to 100MB for iPad versions; good news for Smartphone users overly considered with size issues. Deputy Editor Pam McCarthy, says they hope to use the same tech to slim down the iPad version.
Is this a mobile app for dummies?
Don’t pop the champagne just yet. Condé Nast, the magazine’s publishing house, has not discovered water on Mars, found a solution to world poverty, or figured out a way to have your cake and eat it, too — in short, there’s no revolution happening here. The New Yorker app does not differ significantly from similar apps and will no doubt face serious competition from AP Mobile, the New York Times, and NPR News, each of which boasts individual mobile strengths with more consistent updates. As a result, it may not lead to growth for the publication overall, but instead, simply supplement its existing readership.
Users have so far given mixed reviews, with some complaining about login problems and issues with accessing the magazine on more than one device at a time. But all is not lost for the not-so-smart smartphone users. It seems the magazine expected this and enlisted the help of comedienne Lena Dunham and John Hamm to explain its features:
Are mobile apps the next frontier for magazines?
News outlets are struggling to keep their heads above water and stay profitable following years of declining revenue from print editions. According to a Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism report, executives predicted that in five years many newspapers would print only on Sundays, or perhaps two or three days per week. The fate of magazines is not so different, with US sales falling by nearly 10 percent in the first half of 2012 according to the Audit Bureau of Circulations.
Although not much success has been realized so far, media outlets seem determined to keep fighting and now have their sights set on conquering the next frontier — mobile devices and, in particular, the new ad revenues they provide. To date, a number of issues have been raised, each of which will need to be overcome to push the publishing industry forward:
With evidence by the PEW Internet & American Life Project that nearly half of the US population uses smartphones, one would imagine this to be a very lucrative market. However, some users are often put off by several ads and opt for news aggregators. According to TechCrunch and Forbes, Google currents or Pulse don’t run ads yet. This lets them get the news without dealing with the intrusive and often annoying ads that keep turning up.
Yet another reason media companies may also not yet be making as much money from their mobile apps is because most popular news apps don’t come directly form print or broadcast news outlets.For instance, Flipboard and Onswipe, which repackage content for mobile web browsers, call the shots on advertising on their platforms. They not only determine which ads to run, but they also portion out the shares that publishers get from ad revenue.
Local, Not National, Needs
For advertising to be lucrative to app users, it has to be hyperlocal: providing information on service providers closer to where the user is. Mobile ad networks such as xAD and CityGrid are particularly useful because smartphone users often turn to their phones when making decisions on where to go or what to do. Such ads could include food outlets, shopping malls, bars and restaurants in the general area.
According to Gigaom, 2012 is the year that mobile advertising starts to pay off. They attribute this to increased sales of mobile ads and better rates as a result of the implementation of HyLoMo (hyper-local mobile). Skout, a leading mobile social network for meeting people, increased average eCPMS (effective cost per mile) by 44 percent and fill rates by 37 percent, doubling ad revenue in three months. But with mobile app development still costly, the jury is still out on whether the New Yorker mobile app will boost the company’s revenue and provide a good return on investment.