Apps the way to go!

Application developers, journalists and editors discuss how apps can help resuscitate online magazines and the challenges they face.

Race to the top: Apps vs Music (Picture: Asymco)












Asymco, a Helsinki-based industry analysis advisory firm, have predicted that the income generated from online application sales will overtake the income generated from digital music sales within three years.

The February 2011 ABC figures revealed that just four out of the top-12 magazines publishing houses have registered a profit on year-on-year sales.

Alex Watson, Head of App Development at Dennis Publishing (one of the four companies to register a profit), admits that it’s a very exciting time for applications. ‘Their importance has taken people by surprise. You’re at a point where it has become a multi-billion dollar industry within three years so there’s a significant consumer interest in them.’

Apps vs websites

But Jack Parsons, editor of Listed Magazine Bournemouth, doesn’t feel that apps do much more than a website. ‘I feel apps are just an extension of the internet. It’s just an extension of what the net did already. They’re exciting and fun but it doesn’t have the content more than the net, it just means it’s in your back-pocket.’

So how can apps differentiate themselves from content on the website? Watson describes a successful example Dennis Publishing have used:

Media lecturer, former editor and journalist, Chris Wheal, says, ‘If you want to read several publications and have to have all those apps, then its just quicker going online. You can sit with your computer open and get an RSS feed from each and do it much quicker. Apps aren’t there to be readers but to engage the audience.’

Former news editor, Liisa Rohumaa believes that apps are there to benefit websites. ‘The best apps will do things differently from the website. They are, after all, there to compliment a website and not replace it.’

App-solute domination (Picture: Asymco)














Good app vs bad app

Depending on the level of intricacy and scale of designing and production involved, it can take anything from a few weeks to a few months (games) to produce an app. Watson says that since the app industry is relatively new (three years), there’s no standard way of doing things and it’s more a case of learning through research and development.

Senior lecturers from Bournemouth University, Dr Roman Gerodimos and Dr James Pope, believe that as sales of tablets rise, so will the use of creative multimedia apps like Alice for the iPad.

As an app developer, Watson says the challenge is not to get carried away with the amount you can do. ‘Users like to see you using animation, gps, accelerometer, etc. Multimedia, too, is extremely important but you don’t want to put flashy stuff in there just for being flashy. It has to help the user do what he needs to do. It’s difficult to strike a balance between usability, being attractive and pulling the user in.’

He says that apps are definitely not a fad as they are already so popular even though not everyone owns a smartphone. From the looks of things, Asymco totally agrees with him.


About Sherwin Coelho

MA Multimedia Journalism student at Bournemouth University. This website is my Masters production project. The aim of this project is to focus on technology and how it is changing the landscape for publishers and artists because of the death of newspapers, magazines, books, CDs and DVDs. Some may argue to the contrary, but I’ll aim to explore how fast the game is changing, what people think of it and whether it is a good or bad thing.

Posted on June 28, 2011, in Magazines and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. Interesting statistics on the growth of apps. I would have to agree with Liisa when she says that apps are here to compliment websites and not replace them.

    I have recently got hooked on to the world of applications and if an app is user-friendly and brings value to content delivery then I would be interested in it. However, I don’t think an app which is a fancy widget will last for long. Apps are definitely here to stay.

  2. Consumers are spending more time on mobile apps than on the web for the first time, a new report claims. Some interesting charts and graphs that echos your voice 🙂

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