About a year ago, I wrote a short post praising the virtues of a “barebones and featureless” app from the Economist. The magazine had managed to integrate its print and digital offerings in a way that many other periodicals had missed to that point.
As the number of app-friendly platforms grows, other publishers appear to be following the path paved by the Economist. This doesn’t mean the death of customized apps with extensive interactivity, but those solutions certainly aren’t right for every publication.
HTML5 is also making inroads. Folio: recently posted a substantial round-up of publications that are exploring the use of HTML5 as a mobile delivery platform. Those profiled included the Financial Times (somewhat a sister publication to the Economist), which employs it as an alternative to Apple.
Last month, Folio: also reported the results of a Pew Research survey of tablet use that was sponsored by the Economist. More than half of those who owned a tablet used it to consume news; 17% said they read books on the device. The survey was conducted last summer, well ahead of the debut of tablet devices from Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Kobo.
The Folio: article on tablet use also notes that the Economist claims to have sold 100,000 digital-only subscriptions, of which 75% are new to the publication. This contrasts with a much lower number (18%) of new recruits found in the Texterity study. There isn’t a right answer here: the lesson more likely is that your mileage may vary.