Publishers Sour on Apps
May 12, 2012
Have you noticed a slowdown in attempts to app-ify traditional publications? Technology Review describes "Why Publishers Don’t Like Apps." Writer Jason Pontin describes early attempts of publishers to cure their Internet woes with apps. They seem to have expected tablet and smartphone users to relate to the written word more like, well, the written word than like a Web site. Sure, most of the projects supported some limited interactability, but publishers also expected people to be happy viewing simple replicas of print materials. And, they expected to be able to charge for this paltry access.
Problems abounded from the beginning, including grossly underestimating costs (an age-old problem), and technical difficulties converting print matter into apps. The write up emphasizes:
"But the real problem with apps was more profound. When people read news and features on electronic media, they expect stories to possess the linky-ness of the Web, but stories in apps didn’t really link. The apps were, in the jargon of information technology, ‘walled gardens,’ and although sometimes beautiful, they were small, stifling gardens. For readers, none of that beauty overcame the weirdness and frustration of reading digital media closed off from other digital media.
"Without subscribers or many single-copy buyers, and with no audiences to sell to advertisers, there were no revenues to offset the incremental costs of app development. With a couple of exceptions, publishers therefore soured on apps."
Ah, so publishers don’t like apps because the golden goose is a sparrow and lays small monetary eggs. Got it.
Cynthia Murrell, May 12, 2012
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