Tag Archives: iPad

Matchbin Launches Tablet Newsstand for Local Publishers

(Image is of Zinio Newssstand for iPad, but you get the idea….)

The release of the Samsung Galaxy Tab will give the iPad some competition. It reminds us that the rise of tablets has been positioned as a savior for publishing, including newspapers and magazines.

Theoretically, at least, tablets can process incremental per-copy and subscription sales via their download function. Utilizing their larger, touch-screen capabilities, they could also enable appealing interactive ads. The Galaxy Tab is expected to sell one million units by the end of 2010, while Apple has so far sold seven million iPads.

Of course, we are equally intrigued by their potential for bundling in transactional capabilities. This includes everything from the sale of music, event tickets and even promotional giveaways of consumer packaged goods. All of these can become purchased “apps.”

Indeed, a successful billing vehicle has become something of a holy grail for e-commerce, partly driving the $1.2 Billion sale of Skype to eBay in 2005, and the development of other phone-based commerce since then. But tablets, which have additional capabilities beyond the mobile “on the go” experience, might have additional potential.

A lot comes down to is the success of a tablet newsstand that local (i.e. geographically zoned and often smaller) publishers could work with. Currently, for the iPad at least, the TuneKit format has been focused largely on large publishers (and most of these deals haven’t been consummated.) Consequently, the only recourse that publishers have had is to build custom applications for the App Store – an expensive and iffy proposition, especially for smaller, local-oriented publishers.

While other publishers are often invited to participate on custom platforms, they haven’t offered ideal solutions. The New York Times platform, for instance, can only publish that day’s slate of stories. It can’t package “issues” containing historical content, pay per view support or tie in to marketplace verticals such as classifieds and business directories.

One of the vendors that has focused on a better solution is Matchbin, the Utah-based CMS builder. It has been working on a newsstand solution that solves these issues for its customers, which include major newspaper publishers such as Freedom Communications, community weeklies, and ethnic media, such as Impremedia and World Journal. Matchbin represents 850 media titles and services at this point.

Using Matchbin, publishers can choose to support subscriptions (including options for pricing, time period and/or number of issues.) They can also choose to sell by single issue only. In the works are support services for dynamic user-interest matching, classifieds integration, vertical product integration and news wires.

The Matchbin Newsstand supports all content formats – HTML 5, Javascript, CSS, MP3, h.264. It also offers sales of every kind of content from 50 cent newspapers to $5.00 children’s books to $5,000 trade reports. Publishers can either develop custom layouts in popular formats such as DreamWeaver or iWeb, or send their XML-formated raw stories to Matchbin, which will reproduce them in an assortment of stock templates.

While the Newsstand has been developed for iPad, Matchbin is also working on Android, as well as solutions for desktop browsing, purchase and reading. The company also has its eyes on supporting Blackberry.

All of this – coupled with subscription pay-per0-view revenues – means that pubs will now be truly free to start shifting their expectations from print to digital,” notes CTO Miles Romney.

Another newsstand vendor in the marketplace is Next Issue Media, which will open its consumer-oriented digital newsstand early next year. The service, however, is entirely oriented towards Android.

Matchbin CTO Miles Romney is giving a special demonstration of Matchbin’s Newsstand at ILM:10, which takes place Dec. 7-9 in Santa Clara.

NYT’s Zimbalist at Inman: Everything Must Sync

Michael Zimbalist, who runs R&D at The New York Times Co., told Inman Real Estate Connect attendees in San Francisco yesterday that the rise of social networks has spearheaded a very real shift from “the paradigm of publishing to the paradigm of communicating.”

“The consumer is squarely at the center,” said Zimbalist, noting that there are now more global users of social networks than even email. “Time spent using email has completely flattened out.”

The new paradigm has lead to a change in overall behavior, with users now active creators of content. “Every minute, 20 hours of video is uploaded to YouTube,” he said. Mobile is also integrated into everything.

The implications for the publishing and software industries are that they have to plan for multi-purpose devices and services and incredibly rapid innovation. “We are seeing a Cambrian explosion of evolution,” said Zimbalist. Many things are coming up, and some don’t make it.

Features that have been seized upon include search with voice, location, image recognition, multi touch, augmented reality and “gestural navigation” such as WII game devices. To stay abreast, it is critical that publishers and software producers work to sync everything at all times.

Regarding the iPad, Zimbalist took note of an audience member’s disappointment with The New York Times initial iPad app, which is just a “best of” product (I like it, actually). A new premium version will come out soon. Addressing rumors that it will be priced as much as $360 a year, Zimbalist only joked that users will “definitely pay more” than they do for The Wall Street Journal iPad app.

Citysearch iPad ‘Magazine’ Debuts Fling Away Coupons

Citysearch has debuted “cityseries,” a new digital “best of” magazine for the iPad that allows users in key cities to quickly find “best” bars, shopping, spas, breakfast and other top categories.

The attractive online magazine, which will be promoted on other iPad sites, relies on Citysearch’s editorial staff and combines reviews with business profile information. Initial monthly editions have been launched in New York, San Francisco, Chicago, Los Angeles, Atlanta, Austin, Boston, Washington D.C. and Seattle.

What’s especially unique is that Citysearch combs its coupons database and presents “popover” coupons that appear when the iPad is held horizontally, below the text. Users can either save the coupons to their photo albums or fling away the coupons with their fingers — iPad/iPhone/iTouch style — before continuing. Currently, there are five on a page. There are no additional charges to advertisers for inclusion.

It isn’t really clear what users will do if they save the coupons. Show it to the merchant? Confirm discounts via word of mouth? Email it to themselves and print it out? But they do represent a unique touch screen advertising option we hadn’t seen before.

Note: This post has been updated to reflect Citysearch’s fix of the coupons.

I ‘Like’ My iPad: Some Observations

The Apple iPad was finally delivered or sold to 300,000 people this weekend. Hardly any of us had even touched it before. After a couple of days playing with my new 32 GB, Wifi only model – about $700 with tax and a basic dock — here are some topline observations:
* It is elegant with wonderful screen resolution (but requires lots of wiping off fingerprints).
* The Internet processing is really fast.
* It turns on immediately. There is no delay.
* It is kind of heavy (1 ½ lb.) and not easy to hold. The Kindle is much easier to hang on to. Maybe the $39 bendable cover will be a fix. In the meantime, I can’t do much of this in bed.
* The virtual keyboard is quite doable in the larger size. My big hands generally have trouble with iPhone/iTouch keyboards.
* iPhone Apps can be made 2X in size, but they aren’t very clear and they use the smaller iPhone virtual keyboard. Apps should be made specifically for iPads.
* The touch screen enlargement of pictures and text is fantastic on a large screen.
* The absence of Flash is a pretty big deal, no matter what Mr. Jobs says. Whole sections of The New York Times web version are blank spots.

All in all, it really doesn’t seem like such a big deal when you get it. It just goes to work and is Apple-intuitive. Naturally, I downloaded a bunch of apps that were local and/or News-centric (YellowBook, YellowPages.com’ YPMobile, SuperPages, DexOne Mobile, Zillow, Trulia, Cars.com, eBay, Fwix, OpenTable, WeatherBug, Citysearch, Yelp, New York Times Editor, Wall Street Journal).

The Zillow app is an outstanding prototype for what this thing can be. It allows full blowups of residences, and takes excellent advantage of the GPS mapping. It is a major improvement over the regular version.

You need to be careful downloading apps now that there are so many paid ones. Many that are basically impersonations of what most people are looking for. Looking up “Yellow Pages.” for instance, there are several that aren’t the bonafides (and sometimes the bad reviews are the only clues). And what might have made sense for differentiation on the iPhone (“YPMobile”) makes little sense on the iPad. Careful with the branding…..

Ultimately, as our new “kitchen PC,” I already know this is my family’s new Yellow Pages. The branding and marketing here is going to be vital. And time is of essence.

But is it going to take the place of our print newspapers at last? The New York Times “best of” selection is beautifully organized and so clear to read – a clear demonstration of superiority over the Web-based version (which can always be accessed). It may really be “better.”

I think it will win out in the end. But there are compromises. My wife and I can’t trade sections over the kitchen table, and I don’t want to get milk on this thing either. The LA Times, our semi-local paper, will still get soaked with milk.

At 3:40 yesterday, the iPad got a very immediate trial by fire as a news machine when the Earthquake struck. There were all the instant comments on Facebook (yes, Earthquake in LA and in Orange County, no Earthquake in Temecula).

Within an hour, the seismic charts showing the Earthquake in Mexicali made it on to the Web – my tech-phobic mother-in-law quickly grasped the touch screen, spreading her fingers and widened the picture, showing that Mexicali is about 108 miles south of the border. Not bad!

iPad’s Impact on Newspapers: Too Little, Too Late?

Wired on the iPad, via All Things D

Next month, Apple’s iPad comes out (and I will buy one). But what will be the impact of iPads and tablets from other companies on traditional media? Many are considering it to be the new magazine form factor. In theory, the iPad would make online ads compelling, and better enable digital subscriptions and a la carte buys. Wired Magazine, for one, has been showing off a good- looking prototype. I highly recommend this video from the Wall Street Journal’s All Things D site.

Newspapers will look great, too. Look at The New York Times iPad demo. My guess, however, is that the iPad’s impact on newspapers’ bottom line will be marginal for several years – and then, it may be too late. While the iPad should have excellent introductory sales, most sales will likely be low end units without communications, so their usage will be mostly home and coffee shop based. Low end units, limited to WiFi Internet, are $499. Wireless Communications adds $130, plus $30 a month. Wifi-only won’t provide a big lift to newspapers, because it doesn’t get the product onto commuter trains.

Newspaper companies, of course, are better positioned to participate in the mobile revolution than a year ago by virtue of their vertical properties, such as Classified Ventures’ Cars.com and Apartments.com. Both are “on the go” media sites that allow users to get information on a 24/7 basis, but more importantly, while they are out and about shopping for their category.

Other newspaper niche sites, like The Envelope from The Los Angeles Times , bring newspapers into an entirely new domain with the addition of online App games based on news and entertainment. These might ultimately play a role in the transformation of newspapers.

For now, I’m not counting on significant advertising or circulation revenue to develop for newspapers directly because of their investments in tablet devices, or mobile generally.