The Boston Globe launch new iPhone app, joins two others in the Apple App Store
One of the smarter things some newspapers did during the beginning of the internet era was to grab the URL of the city they cover. So Cleveland.com and Boston.com are not the official URLs of city hall, but commercial web destinations owned by media companies. It’s a wonder they managed to get away with it, but there is no doubt those URLs are valuable real estate.
For the Boston Globe, Boston.com has been the home page of the newspaper. The website, like most other newspaper sites launched, was a free site with no paywall to limit the access of readers. Then in September of 2011 the paper launched a new site, BostonGlobe.com. The site was, and is, an attractive, well-designed, modern news site. It is also now behind a paywall.
That creates an interesting situation in the mobile space. The Globe launched its Boston.com iPhone app back in early 2010 and so that app reflects the older website. What to do about BostonGlobe.com? Should it have its own app, or is the e-edition app, with its hybrid replica edition of the newspaper sufficient?
A couple of weeks ago the Globe launched a new app, simply called The Boston Globe (a good reminder of the importance of naming your apps properly). The app reflects the content of the new BostonGlobe.com website, and requires a subscription º $3.99 per month.
The problem now, though, is that the paper currently has three* different iPhone apps: the original free Boston.com app, the e-edition of the newspaper app which resides in the Newsstand, and the new The Boston Globe app which also is in the Newsstand.
It’s all a bit confusing, and unnecessarily so. The e-edition app, called The Boston Globe ePaper is universal. The question is why? Do readers really want to read the newspaper on their mobile phones, or simply the news? The one advantage of the ePaper app is that readers can buy a single issue.
But the new Globe app is also in the Newsstand, as if it is updated only once a day. But it reflects the website so updates are, in fact, continuous. That subscription price really isn’t for a set number of issues, but a set number of days of access.
The free, stand-alone app – the older app – is where the fun stuff resides (fun stuff from a publisher’s perspective): the jobs, real estate and other features and advertising.
Back in the early to mid-eighties, newspaper research showed that one of the biggest reasons readers subscribed to their metro newspaper was the things the editorial department could care less about: classifieds, coupons, and the like. With the editorial folks now firmly in charge of the industry, the ad departments aren’t really part of the decision making process when it comes to mobile and tablets (at least, that is what I’ve been told numerous times by newspaper executives I’ve talked to when I’ve asked them).
In some ways, this opens up an interesting opportunity at the Globe. There is now a chance for the old Boston.com app to become something a lot more than just a news app. The new Boston Globe mobile app is great, well-designed, and appears to function just fine. Subscribers should love it.
Now there is an app called Boston.com that can be radically transformed into something a new media company would want to produce. To do this, though, may require a little entrepreneurial spirit and a new vision for what a mobile news app should be – in other words, not just another iPhone app from a newspaper.
* The Globe actually has seven different iPhone apps, but only three of them are news app.