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 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.