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.

New iPad magazine showcases graphic journalism

The comics medium has been used for journalism for a while now. Joe Sacco’s Palestine is a prime example; a personal and immediate first-hand account of life in the occupied territories.

Symbolia Cover ArtSymbolia magazine takes this form of journalism to the iPad as a Newsstand app.

Symbolia is available in the iOS App Store. Download is free, an annual subscription is $11.99 for 6 issues. Single issues will run $2.99. The app comes free with the preview issue, which showcases Susie Cagle’s piece on the Salton Sea.

Newsstand Icons

Newsstand Icons are rendered differently from normal apps, like the Zinio icon at left.

Apple’s Newsstand is a very underrated iOS feature. Newsstand apps are essentially iOS apps with additional privileges that allow pushing of new content to your device so that the latest issue is available to you offline. Apple hasn’t promoted Newsstand much, but there are an impressive number of major titles available, including the New York Times, Sports Illustrated, Esquire, Wired, and others. You can easily differentiate Newsstand apps from others on the app store by their icons; instead of the rounded square icons, Newsstand apps are rendered to look like magazines or newspapers. It’s a good thing, too, as the ‘store’ feature in Newsstand is kind of broken.

Ironically, today News Corp. announced that they are shutting down The Daily, but tablet-based magazines such as Symbolia and Marco Arment’s The Magazine seem to be gaining momentum. The Magazine is already profitable, has hired an editor, and increased its rates for writers. The economics of these magazines are very compelling in comparison to print magazines, and the barriers to entry have never been lower.