Magazine article Editor & Publisher

Taking a Newsstand: Publishers like the Results They See So Far from Apple Newsstand; Don't Mind Apple's 30 Percent Cut of Subscription Price

Magazine article Editor & Publisher

Taking a Newsstand: Publishers like the Results They See So Far from Apple Newsstand; Don't Mind Apple's 30 Percent Cut of Subscription Price

Article excerpt

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Newspaper publishers are raving about Apple Newsstand, saying they have seen a drastic increase in app downloads since its Oct. 12 launch.

Newsstand, a feature included in iOS 5, provides a portal for tablet users to select which newspaper and magazine apps they want to read on a daily basis, and automatically downloads them in the background to users' tablets and smartphones. It also brings renewed importance to the newspaper cover. When users enter Newsstand, they see an image of an empty shelf. After they select from the App Store what publications to subscribe to in Newsstand, they click on the cover image to access the content.

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METRO UK

Apple initially was not going to let newspapers with free apps participate in Newsstand, according to Jamie Walters, executive director of digital at Metro UK, a British commuter paper. However, the company later changed its mind.

"Knowing how the product operates and allows for automatic downloads and subscriptions as well, we were very sure it was going to be quite a big driver of audience. Not to be able to get in there because we were free was a problem. And we wanted to remain free," Walters said. "We had discussions about whether we should go paid-for in order to get in. But then Apple approached us not long before they launched Newsstand, because we were building this new product anyway, saying 'we would like you to be in Newsstand for launch; can you do it?' Of course, we said, 'yes we can' and sped up the development of this tablet-edition product, which went live the day Newsstand did, Oct. 12," he said, adding that the app is still free as originally planned.

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Apple, however, takes 30 percent of the subscription price for newspapers that do charge for their content.

Some of the features of the new Metro UK iPad app, which was released the same day as Newsstand and takes about a half-hour to read, include Window on the World, a set of 10 of the paper's best photos; and a live TV feed from partner ITN that includes short-form video content to supplement stories. In addition, all advertisements are full-page, so they don't disrupt the editorial flow.

"With this [app], we wanted to create a kind of laid-back newspaper-reading experience but with something that was designed for the device you're reading it on. It borrows more from print than it does from Web but takes full advantage of all the functionalities and is more than just a PDF reader," Walters said.

He explained that the company couldn't think of many challenges when considering participating in Newsstand, besides having to speed up development of the iPad app.

"It's such a great marketplace for our product, and also, in being one of the few daily newspaper partners to go in at launch, we've got some fantastic marketing off Apple from within iTunes. That's really helped drive the significant audience numbers we've been getting in the early stage."

Specifically, Metro UK's new iPad app is seeing about 2,000 downloads daily. As of Oct. 31, the app was downloaded 180,000 times. To compare, Metro UK launched another app, called Metro Online, in April of last year. This app, which works on both iPhone and iPad and provides breaking news 24/7, is not available on Newsstand. The company has seen a total of only 240,000 downloads since its launch. In addition, Walters said the new app generates more than 65,000 unique visitors daily and 800,000 to 1 million page views to its website.

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THE GUARDIAN

Steve Wing, head of mobile/digital marketing at The Guardian, another newspaper across the pond. explained that his company also launched its new iPad app the same day as Newsstand's launch. The app includes a free three-month trial and then costs 9.99 [pounds sterling] per month.

"We were looking to release our iPad app at that moment in time, and we are always thinking about what would be the best possible user experience. …

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