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  • Appification Nation: Too Big Too Fail?

    What is it with our Nicholas Carr fixation? Authors take note  –  mention us in print and you’re guaranteed Vook blog coverage. Today, I want to call your attention to a piece Mr. Carr wrote for the Nieman Journalism Lab on the coming appification of content. Carr’s predicting that newspapers in 2024 will monetize and engage readers increasingly through apps. It’s an area we’ve been thinking about as we find more and more content holders getting interested in eBooks.

    Mr. Carr’s piece offers an apparently safe thesis—newspapers have profited from great apps. But when it comes to content delivery, the details are thorny.

    Carr writes, “What’s an app store but a series of paywalls?” Well, it’s also, crucially, a marketplace you can only tap with the help of developers and one that imposes checkpoints and tech requirements that can be difficult to accomodate. Essentially:

    1. A native app is expensive to build – if you really want to get it right
    2. Content updating in apps can be difficult to maintain through a CMS
    3. Updating and version changes = major headaches

    expensive-iphone-appsCMS solutions for appstore delivery exist — and we love the work from Mag+, Adobe and others — and it does seem many newspapers already have an app. But production difficulties aside, the appstore also represents the centraliziation and primacy of a few big brands. A good example might be apps for local public radio stations  – many NPR and PRI affiliates have an app, but after my cursory survey of a selection, I’d be  surprised if any of them, or even all of them combined, approached the traction of the excellent NPR flagship app.

    Jason Baptiste at OnSwipe would probably say we’re being too moderate in our perspective, but HTML 5 Web experiences also have a ways to go. They remain slow, clunky to load, and it can be hard for them to handle more complicated content.

    So is there a solution? Probably long term a Web-based experience independent of native app confines — like Baptiste’s OnSwipe. In the interim, newspapers and news related content holders should look at monetizing their content across a spectrum of platforms, including eBooks.

    Appification is going to help, but it’s still a hard way to make money (see: the Daily). The Project Triangle states that of the qualities Fast, Cheap and Good you must pick two. I’d tweak it and say the App Project Triangle is Slow, Expensive and Good. If you want Good, you pretty much have to take the other two as well.

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    5. The Mark Cuban eBook: Proudly Made In Vook

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