Why Tech Review is ditching its iPad edition

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30 Responses to “Why Tech Review is ditching its iPad edition”

  1. Suburbancowboy says:

    This is my problem with many “apps”. Why would I install an app to read 1 website? A bookmark in my browser should suffice. It adds clutter to the interface, and takes up memory.

  2. technogeekagain says:

    The web succeeded because a single “light client” — the browser — could be used for all content. That should still be more than sufficient for most content, if the website and its stylesheets are written properly.

    • Idon't Know says:

      Its been a long time since browsers were a light client.  Compare their memory and cpu usage to an app.

      • Jay Stephens says:

        No.
        Compare their memory and cpu usage to several apps running in tandem (as they inevitably do on my Android, which has perforce already been tweaked so that app memory uses the vastly slower SD-card because onboard memory filled to overflowing otherwise).
        And compare what happens when I am using my twitter app, and click on a link that opens the tumblr app, and then thru to an image on the Tumblog that opens my Flickr app if I want to view it fullsize…. and that’s why I’ve basically switched back to using the browser for everything.

  3. Scott Frazer says:

    From the article: “Profit margins in single-copy sales are thinner than 30 percent”

    If that’s the case, and subscriptions cost less than the single-copy equivalent, how did they ever think they were going to make money on this?

    Lose money on every subscription but make it up in volume?

    • spejic says:

      I assume the single copy sales have to take into account all the magazines sent to the store that aren’t sold.

  4. fuzzyfuzzyfungus says:

    Ooh, 353. That has to hurt.

    Honestly, while I suspect that calling on technologies unfamiliar to web designers(at least to do a genuinely decent job of something ‘applike’, not just an encapsulation of the system-provided webkit and a snapshot of your site) didn’t exactly help, and certainly makes continued existence in the face of a number like that impossible, I’d be inclined to suspect that a much higher number would have made those concerns melt away…

    The initial stampede of publishers to iDevice specific delivery mechanisms was not driven so by some inadequacy of HTML; but by the comforting notion of a nice, clean, walled garden complete with built-in ‘buy’ buttons and cryptographic locks, away from the ghastly rabble of the internet with its low-value ads and wicked Google News devaluing your content.

    As always, some ended up discovering that there weren’t enough customers inside the walled garden, or learning the hard way that the gardener not only wanted his 30%; but wanted it for any outside services sold through services sold inside; but the ones who found the money that they wanted seem undeterred by the terrors of Objective C.

  5. Funk Daddy says:

    Glad to see this. I’ve been dubious of the trend toward device specific content.

    How on earth did peeps think moving from successful universal formats to myriad little apps/device versions as anything but a step backwards? I totally see it for FB and other media that is intended to be interacted with many times everyday, I don’t use em, but I see why people would. But for a magazine? That’s like selling the same edition in newsprint fold and glossy bound mag at the same newsstand.

    • Idon't Know says:

      Because Apple owns 90+ percent of mobile content viewing and it it works on one iOS device it works on all of them.

      • technogeekagain says:

         And people have been sufficiently seduced by the Apple device that they’re willing to bend over backward in order to run on it.

  6. salsaman says:

    +1 for all previous comments, BBers get it, apps for web sites make little sense.  We can “Add to Home Screen” for sites we visit frequently, but few things online are more annoying than obnoxious “You’re on an iPhone!  Download our app!” popups.

    Good web design, especially using RSS, does the trick better than a team of app programmers– let the browsers and readers (and browser-based readers ;) do the heavy lifting of showing your good work.

  7. Rider says:

    I have been baffled by the rush of every company and publisher in the world to make an app.  Makes no sense to me.

  8. jerwin says:

    The ipad’s browser does not support flash video, and frequently has trouble with real time chat– a well designed iPad app would restore those two features.

    Moreover, some web pages are designed to be used with a mouse and keyboard– the controls are too small to be used with fingers– the pinch zoom wastes precious fractions of  a second. Again, a well designed ipad app guarantees usability.

    A good rule of thumb might be:
    Is there a firefox plugin for your site? Do people use it? For instance, I’ve always used an fierfox plugin with ebay– it helps me organize my bidding. A well designed ebay app could be more convenient than the equivalent set of web pages.

    But as for magazines? Just get rid of the pagination. Try to make the ads less intrusive. Don’t use Windows specific typography.

    • nixiebunny says:

       It’s more sensible to develop a mobile version of the site for tiny devices, as many sites such as Wikipedia have done. At least the web developers don’t need to learn much more to achieve that. Apps are for things that websites can’t deliver.

      • jerwin says:

        yes. Sometimes, my ipad is detected as mobile device, and I feel even more constrained.

        What I want is to be able to read a webpage, as if I was reading it on my iPad’s Kindle app. I’d like to be able to read a site in offline mode.

        If it’s a comic, each set of panels should fit in single screen without scrolling.

        Above all, it should not look like Salon.com.

  9. Cowicide says:

    They went about this all wrong.  This is what happens when you let pure geeks take the controls without some educated, well researched consultants (with a knack for keeping things simple to save money) to direct the most practical approach first.

    Someone should have taken a hard look at jquery mobile and phonegap.  That’ll be $250.00 for my basic consulting, thx.

    • Ito Kagehisa says:

       That is the funniest post I’ve read in a year!

    • matthewfabb says:

      I was just thinking the exact same. If jQuery Mobile doesn’t float their boat there are plenty of other mobile JavaScript frameworks. However, definitely use PhoneGap and have their web developers create the app rather than outsource it. Share code with their main site, give links to their site so that they can share the content.

      Because there is something to be said for downloading a magazine and then being able to view the content later on when you no longer have a wifi connection.

  10. Jim Nelson says:

    This was my experience doing an app for Android and iOS. It’s a completely different thing from doing websites – I have a lot of experience doing web work, but writing an app is completely alien to webdorks. It was unpleasant, buggy, opaque, and ended up providing nothing that the website already had.

    But the customer demanded an ‘app’. Never mind that a mobile website would have worked just as well, if not better.

    Feh.

  11. Tim Quinn says:

    gee, I am an amateur in software development, but I know better than this. This is a serious case of over-planning without understanding. Pages can be built in html5. You can still take advantage of high resolution. Minimal amount of obj-c to create a broad template for your magazine. CSS to maintain fine style, your web pros should be able to adjust to a resolution independent model. Should have been preparing for that from the day they entered college. Let readers read in landscape if you don’t want to make many versions. iPhone is too small for this sort of thing, skip it.

    My guess as to the real motivation; look at what harvard is doing. Charging for academic content is changing if not going away.

    • Tim Quinn says:

      another possible explanation; professors are embarrassed that this new technology flummoxes them so reject it as inadequate. Even more keenly embarrassed because they are tech professors.

    • fuzzyfuzzyfungus says:

      “Technology Review”(somewhat unfortunately, the version that died in 1998 was much better, with more articles about technology and less frothing about interchangeable web startups) is not really ‘academic content’.

      It is published by an organ owned by MIT; but is much closer to being a general-circulation tech magazine hovering somewhere between Scientific American and Wired. More VC/startup hagiography than the former; but less specific-gadget focus than the latter.

      Very much unlike an academic journal in structure, tone, or content. Also not terribly closely linked to MIT faculty, though it will sometimes do writeups of things going on in the labs there.

      Still a bit troublesome for a magazine with ‘technology’ in its name to misstep on the wild intertubes; but it isn’t as though MIT’s CS department was scratching its head in befuddlement at the problem…

  12. Tim Quinn says:

    “stories in apps don’t really link”

    This is lame, of course they do.

    • Idon't Know says:

      correct.  Their comments reek of they don’t know the most basic things about iOS.  No wonder they are going web only.  Watch their numbers drop.

      • wygit says:

        Sorry, but in most of the reader apps I’ve used, links don’t work. I don’t think the people saying that were saying it was inherent to the platform or just possibly tricky to implement properly, but I’m pretty sure they don’t care.

  13. entee says:

    If you discount the 2 times tablets were counted from the 6 versions they have to produce that’s still 4 versions. I’d of looked at spending some of that $124,000 on improving the workflow allowing the content to be served up easily across all platforms and future ready for anymore before looking at getting the app out.Tim Quinn gives a great example of that above and like he said can’t link because its a walled garden. Lame. You’d think a company owned by MIT would know what they’re doing.

  14. Ultan says:

    It’s “Technology Review“, not ” Tech Review“. If you’re going to go to the trouble of italicizing magazine names, at least get the actual name right.

  15. wygit says:

    I’m not surprised that The New Yorker saw a boost. They started a campaign with subscriptions of the deadtree magazine at 25% of the standard subscription price (not, omg, of the the cover price) and threw in an iPad subscription along with it.
    I paid $60 for a two-year subscription for both versions.
    The iPad version has never worked with Newsstand’s autoupdate feature, crashes a lot, and takes forever to download each new issue, with the user sitting there waiting, because the downlad won’t background properly.
    So I think saying the iPad version gave them a huge subscription boost when Newsstand also concided with the biggest price drop I’ve ever seen might be stretching things a little.

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