TheNextWeb ending its Android magazine version

80 iOS magazine downloads for every 1 Android download, so they are throwing in the towel.

You can’t argue with their logic, but you have to wonder why the big discrepancy.

One area that screams opportunity is that it was taking them about 3-4 extra days to author the magazine for their Android targets, compared to a few hours to adapt their Retina iPad version to non-retina iPad and iPhone versions.

If you have an authoring platform that easily can generate for all the targets without manual intervention, then it really doesn’t matter how small your Android audience starts out.    This seems to be the issue, that they built for the retina iPad, then ‘dumbed down’ the content to hit a broad range of Android devices.  They use the Mag+ platform to publish their magazine.   It starts with InDesign, and maybe that’s part of the problem.  There’s a pressing need for a publishing workflow that is more organic to mobile rather than based on print content.

The other issue seemed to be discoverability — there is one place in iOS where Magazines are showcased (Newsstand), and they are also discoverable in the App Store proper.      On Android, you have multiple app stores — Google Play, Amazon, and whatever storefront the carriers may have added.  This means you need to submit your app to multiple stores and try to get it showcased there.   If Apple has 100,000 downloads of your app, it will show up in popularity rankings, but that same 100,000 will be diluted across multiple stores on Android.  And given the split they saw, it’s really 1250 downloads spread across Google Play, Amazon, Verizon, etc.

iOS 6 also has a feature that will tell you if there is an app for any sites you visit in Safari, and that certainly must drive downloads as well.  The feature is called “Smart App Banners”.  You basically put a meta tag in your web page that tells Safari about the app, and voila, a banner with an App Store link is visible to any Safari users using iOS 6.    Android doesn’t have a similar feature.

Mobile Links for the end of the year

We’ve all been busy with the last-minute shopping, travel, cooking, and hangover cures, so here’s a rundown with lots of “Best Of” lists, predictions, etc. for the end of the year.

This piece from TechCrunch talks about how the lower advertising return on mobile will affect future sites and products.

UX Magazine talks about the top 5 user experience trends in 2012.

Warren Ellis shares his workflow for writing his new novel GUN MACHINE, using an iPad. Apparently you can write a novel on it after all.

BlueStacks is a desktop virtualization app which enables you to run Android applications on OS X or Windows machines.

The creators of Spun, a new news app for iOS, share their tips for creating a great iOS app.

This is a little bit older, but a great analysis of the inter-company politics behind Apple’s decision to drop Google’s Map API.

Ars Technica presents their in-depth review of the new Google Maps app for iOS.

Mashable ran some great advice for media companies on how to adapt or die.

Bad online search practices taken into real-life situations, courtesy of Google.

Mobile Links for Dec 2-9 2012

This week’s big news on the app side of things was the imminent closure of The Daily, an iPad-only newspaper.  I can’t even type in all the links analyzing why this failed,  just Google ‘The Daily Closes’, and you’ll see.

Craig Mod, one of the developers of Flipboard,  had a very insightful analysis of why News Corp.’s The Daily failed.   It all comes down to something he calls ‘subcompact publishing.’

The term has taken off to describe a very nimble approach to magazine publishing on tablets — content-forward, rather than trying to emulate the paper magazine experience.   This follow-up article from him summarizes some of the discusssion he’s inspired.
My take on things:

  1. Stop trying to squeeze a magazine down into a tablet.  Tablet software needs to be reductive, think of building the least-instrusive means of getting people to the content.
  2. There is a serious gap on the authoring side of things, especially if you want a truly cross-platform experience.  Any workflow starting with Adobe’s professional publishing tools is going to end up with a heavy, slow, hard-to-use mess on mobile.  There is definitely a need for something which makes ‘selling magazines for iPads as easy as blogging.’

I’m not the only one who was a bit put off by Brent Caswell’s  iOS lockscreen redesign proposal, which started with the very arguable thesis that iOS is slow and boring, and therefore needed a whole new layer of UI added before you even unlock the phone.   Jonathan Sutter also addresses the issue, with some intriguing alternatives. He points out that the purpose of the lock screen is not to display random information, but to avoid butt-dialing. Any information on the screen is gravy at best, but adding additional information from background apps would simply require some modification of the current Date/Time layout, not a whole new set of taps and gestures.  Even the current up/down gesture of the camera grabber complicates the screen and undermines the consistency of the UI.

Asymco had a great article about the dangers of outsourcing too much of your manufacturing, with Asus and Dell’s relationship as a cautionary tale.

Apple is assembling some of their new iMacs in the U.S., and Tim Cook hinted that more Macs will be manufactured domestically.   This would especially make sense for a new Mac Pro line, and help explain why a case redesign has taken so long.  Remember long ago when Tim Cook talked about a pleasant surprise in the Mac Pro line in 2013?  The Mac Pro line is the one that relies most on built-to-order manufacturing, so it would be a good fit.

Tim Cook’s interview with Brian Williams this week was very telling about his efforts to run Apple his own way.

T-Mobile, the one US carrier that actually gives you a plan discount for using an unsubsidized phone, is doing away with phone subsidies entirely. Just in time for them to introduce the iPhone on their network.

Square has just announced support for Apple’s Passbook feature, and for gift cards.

Samsung’s playing hardball

This detailed article from Horace Dediu at Asymco discusses how important mobile is to Samsung, and just how much they are spending on advertising and sales-related expenses (commissions, incentives).

It might be surprising to note that Samsung spends considerably more than Apple and Microsoft. But it also spends more than Coca Cola, a company whose primary cost of sales is advertising.

However, advertising is not the only form of promotional spending. Samsung also pays commissions and “sales promotion“.

They are in this to win, which is one reason they are the only company besides Apple who are showing profits in mobile. You can bet that this will eventually translate into more influence over the Android platform, if not an outright purchase.

Mobile Links for week of November 25-30 2012

Android shopping traffic lags behind iOS, despite the larger number of devices. GigaOm asks why:
Why are Android users less engaged than iOS users?

Nice detailed graphs and links to several good stories on the topic. I do take issue slightly with the idea that “willingness to buy stuff == engagement”; everyone buys devices for different reasons. But if you are writing shopping apps or marketing your business on mobile devices, it’s important to understand the different types of users and the strategies that work best on each platform.

IDC: Developer Disinterest Could Kill RIM & Windows Phone Ya think? Out of all of the companies I’ve interviewed lately, only a couple are planning to put their apps on Windows Phone, and nobody is planning to support BlackBerry.

11 Apple iPads per hour vs. zero Microsoft Surface tablets Schadenfreude aside*, this is a significant indicator about what a misstep it has been for Microsoft to sidestep its OEMs.  They don’t have nearly the distribution network they need to go it alone.   Also, Surface exemplifies how badly MS has misread the tablet trend; it’s not about the hardware, its about reducing the computing experience to something that is quick and pleasurable.  Shoehorning desktop Windows onto a tablet barely capable of running it fails both tests.

*Actually, I’m not enjoying this at all,  I’m a Microsoft shareholder, and my investment has seen no growth, while my Apple stock has gone through the roof.  Steve Ballmer has got to go.

In BII MOBILE INSIGHTS: Mobile Technology May Define The Future Of Healthcare, PriceWaterhouse Coopers presents a video talking about how mobile is influencing healthcare.      The other links/reports on this page are pretty good, too.

Facebook Messenger a disappointment on iPad

The new Facebook Messenger app looks like a nice streamlined UI to Facebook IM, one that uses location and push notifications to provide an alternative to both IM and texting.

However, they dropped the ball when it comes to the iPad. The app is built as an iPhone-only app, which means it appears on the iPad in a little window that you can pixel double up to full-screen size. Yuck.

One wonders why they didn’t at minimum build it as a Universal app, which lets the UI scale up to full screen using the full resolution of the device. This takes literally 5 minutes to implement in Xcode. The ideal solution, however, would be to use the iPad split view, which would show your list of chat buddies on the left, and your conversation thread on the right. This is a bit more work to implement, but still easy to do for an iOS developer with any iPad experience.

Facebook seems to have the opinion that the proper way to use their service is through the iPad web browser, and that certainly works, but having the ability to take advantage of push notifications and all the other native goodies and access your conversations with a couple of pokes would be a better way to exploit the immediacy of the iPad interface.