21 3 / 2013
The Road to Android: Strategy and Planning
Deciding to launch MAZ Android Apps was a BIG decision. We’re still a lean startup, and projects like this require the whole team to put in a huge amount of time, attention, and effort to make them happen. Our growth depends on us addressing compelling demands when they hit a crescendo, and that time for Android has finally come.
So why Android tablets? Why now? Well, the answer comes from one simple truth: people have started to buy the things. Consumers are demanding content from their favorite publishers, and “your operating system hasn’t historically been a profitable platform” doesn’t cut it anymore.
We’ve heard the strongest calls from our clients with paid content. Nobody is expecting the same level of profits they’re making from iOS, but there is money to be made. It doesn’t matter which platform is “winning,” we’ve crossed a tipping point where there are enough interested readers using Android to make it worthwhile.
Let’s be clear, though: Android is still a riskier venture than iOS for paid content. There is even more of a reason not to invest too much time and energy into it until you have tested the waters a bit. We want to make sure that publishing to Android is easy. And fast. Really, really easy, and really, really fast.
So that’s what we’ve built - a multi-platform solution that doesn’t put any more work on the publisher’s plate. You do the same work going in, but you get more going out.
Readers are going to love their favorite publications on Android, our publishers are going to love the newfound revenue and ease of publishing across multiple platforms, and we at MAZ are going to learn a whole lot in the process.
The time has come for Android at MAZ. Here we go!
15 11 / 2011
If This John Gruber Quote Doesn’t Give You Chills Then You Have No Soul
Just read this whole thing:
Video here: http://vimeo.com/31926572
This is the right time and the right place. This is a once in a career opportunity.
Yes. Yes it is.
Permalink 8 notes
07 7 / 2011
5 Things You Need to Know About Apple’s Newsstand
Whenever Apple makes an announcement relating to digital publishing, subscriptions, etc., the headlines are always the same with things like “Apple Finally Gets Behind Publishers” or “Apple Makes Things Harder For Publishers”, as if every decision made by Apple is specifically aimed to either support or destroy the publishing industry.
The reality of course is not so black and white. Apple obviously realizes the importance and potential of the publishing industry’s involvement in their iOS devices; however it’s just one of many things on Apple’s plate.
In a way, Apple has taken a very hands-off approach. Magazines and newspapers can make apps if they want, abiding by the same rules as every other app developer whether they make games, camera apps, or magazine apps. All apps are equal in the eyes of Apple.
Until now that is.
Apple has announced a feature of the upcoming iOS 5 specifically aimed at the publishing industry: Newsstand.
While the name it is rather to the point I guess, is this really the best that Apple could come up with? What about iNewsstand or iNews or iStand? Or iTake30%? Must have been thunk up by the same people who brought us the oh so un-Apple-y Game Center.
That being said, here are what I consider the 5 essential questions (and answers) regarding all the Newsstand hoopla:
1. What is Newsstand?
This is a rather straightforward question that has been surprisingly hard to find answers to. To my understanding, Newsstand is two things:
Thing #1: It is a folder on the Home Screen. Just like you can create your own folders to categorize your apps, Apple is now automatically filtering publication-based apps into a special folder called Newsstand. It has a cool wooden look to it (like iBooks and also like Delicious Library) and unlike normal folders, you cannot manually put apps in or take apps out of Newsstand. I am unclear on whether you can move them around inside or if they are auto-sorted by newest issue or something.
This is the first “Smart Folder” that Apple has baked into iOS, but my guess is it won’t be the last.
Thing #2: Newsstand is a special store where users will find only publication-based apps. Instead of rifling through the over 500,000 apps (sidenote: as of today there have been over 15 billion app downloads, an average of 75 apps per user) in the general purpose App Store, users will now be have a special place to seek out publication-based apps.
It’s like a mini App Store just for publishers. There will also be a similar mini App Store in Game Center just for games. Same idea.
2. Does A Newsstand Edition Supersede My Existing Stand-Alone App?
A question being thrown around is whether or not Newsstand apps are some new streamlined format, separate from the existing array of apps that exist today, using some sort of new Apple reader and/or format. The answer is no.
The apps themselves do not change. All the time and energy (and money) you have put into your app has not been in vain. There will continue to be many different types of publication-based apps.
The only standardization is that they will now all be grouped together.
3. What’s with the issue cover icons instead of app icons?
Although you still need to submit your app with a proper app icon for devices not yet running iOS 5, you will no longer be seeing that icon on the Home Screen or in the Newsstand Store.
Instead, the app will be represented by the cover of the newest issue in the app. This icon appear in the Newsstand folder and in the Newsstand Store, and it can vary in shape and size based on the way your publication is formatted (which is pretty cool). It definitely gives a general appearance more akin to a real newsstand.
This is Apple’s first time straying away from the idea of the standard app icon format, but I really think it ends up giving the Newsstand an exciting look and feel. I love walking into a real-life newsstand and browsing the covers, and this gives a virtual representation of that.
A bunch of pretty celebs and attention-grabbing headlines? One-tap purchasing with over 200 million credit cards on file? Yes, please!
4. Is Newsstand Going to Help with Discovery?
I could write a whole blog post about discovery (and I probably will), but the rules on the App Store are the same rules as in real life: you need to advertise, market, and promote your brand.
Newsstand will definitely narrow it down so users are are least stacking publication again publication, but still, how do you make yours stick out among hundreds if not thousands of other publications?
Play to your strengths! Newsstand is using the covers as icons, so make sure your covers are the best they can be.
And keep in mind, while getting new readers is obviously always a goal, a large part of going digital is transitioning your existing readership. So for starters, concentrate on them. And you can reach them easily - the print edition! Promote your app in there. Play up the Newsstand element. Make it exciting.
Your fans are fans of your content. They will follow you into the unknown!
5. How Do I Make Sure My Publication is Included in Newsstand?
Last but certainly not least… how do you get to be a part of Newsstand?
In order for an app to be Newsstand-enabled, the app developer has to basically put in a bunch of code that tells the App Store, “Hey, I’m a Newsstand app!” and must include all the things needed for Newsstand.
So make sure your app developer puts that stuff in there for you. I am guessing that it will become a standard feature for most developers/vendors in this space (my company MagAppZine is already upgrading all our clients’ apps to be Newsstand-ready free of charge and including it as a standard feature going forward), but depending on your situation, you might need to shell out a little $ to make your app compatible.
A question that remains for me is whether or not free publications (think a free daily newspaper app) will be able to participate in Newsstand. From what I can tell, it is integrated with the iTunes Store, which only deals with paid subscriptions.
Newsstand is definitely a great tools for publication-based apps on the iPad. But like all great tools, it’s all about how you use it…
Link to Apple’s official page on Newsstand:
Permalink 5 notes