Do apps = paid content?

As part of a presentation on mobile reading I gave last week at a joint CENDI – NFAIS event, I talked briefly about the role of apps in the reading space. The reader apps (Stanza, Kindle, BN, Kobo and others) make sense to me, but I’m not yet convinced that magazine and book content is best served through an app.

Yesterday eMarketer published the results of a study that, while targeted at marketers, illustrates the risk associated with app development. Almost seven in ten app users said their perception of a brand would be hurt if a related app wasn’t helpful or useful. In short: in creating one-off magazine and book apps, the stakes are high.

The report also summarizes Adobe research that found most mobile device users prefer using browsers for a variety of functions. Depending on the use case, between 61% and 81% of those responding favored browsers over dedicated apps.

Part of this is practical: you need only one browser, and the browser interface is one we have grown comfortable manipulating. It may also reflect the complexity of building good apps for a range of operating systems and devices.

In my presentation, I borrowed from good work done by Andrew Brenneman to say that, if you really want to create an app, keep three things in mind:

  • truly leverage the capabilities of the mobile platform
  • target your app to satisfy the needs of specific users
  • develop and refine the app business model (at the outset, scenario planning is useful).

There’s a lot of market pressure to develop and sell content as apps. Selling content I understand; the precise role of apps is still a question for me.

About Brian O'Leary

Founder and principal of Magellan Media Consulting, Brian O’Leary helps enterprises with media and publishing components capitalize on the power of content. A veteran of more than 30 years in the publishing industry and a prolific content producer himself, Brian leverages the breadth and depth of his experience to deliver innovative content solutions.

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