November 1, 2013 Last Updated 8:47 am

App Updates: Google updates iOS Maps app, adds in sponsored hotel rates and booking links

Sun-Times updates Bulls mobile app, La Presse adds blogs and sharing to its live news section in its tablet edition

The great promise of geolocation services is the delivery of geographically relevant information, paid and unpaid, to mobile users. For newspapers, it was the one chance they had to get back their classified and local retail advertising – they blew it.

GoogleMaps-iPad-lgGoogle is not going to wait around, however. They continue to move forward with monetizing geolocation services. Today’s update for Google Maps for iOS is but one example. The update adds in sponsored rates and booking links to hotel searches.

Google has been adding more and more content related to its acquisition of Zagat back in September of 2011. In July they added 5-star ratings and reviews from friends (but not, apparently, those negative reviews from friends) plus Zagat content, in a monetization move. The problem, of course, is that as long as these things are tied to advertising the app becomes less useful overall and forces the user to search for a more unbiased source of information, one not tied directly to advertising.

A little over a year ago it seemed that it would become a major trend that newspapers would be launching their own sports magazines using the Apple Newsstand. Production costs didn’t seem overly high, and the thought of added subscription and/or advertising revenue appeared to make it a winner.

But how, as an example, none of the magazines for local NFL teams from the two Chicago metro papers, nor the Chronicle’s tab mag for the 49ers now survive. Did they papers find it too hard to incorporate it into their work flow, was the advertising unprepared to sell into the products (I understand that they weren’t part of the launch discussions), was the product work too different from producing the paper? Who knows, but they are all gone now.

It remains easier for papers to support their mobile news apps, however. Driven by the RSS feeds from their existing content, mobile apps never seem to die.

Bulls Extra for iPhone by Chicago Sun-Times, for example, has just received its iOS 7 update. Then again, the app comes from a third party, Inergize Digital, so the effort to keep it up to date is minimal.

LaPresse-iPad-cover-lgThe Quebec newspaper La Presse, which invested $40 million to build its tablet edition (what are they, the Pentagon) continues to update its app to add in new content. This morning’s update adds in blog content and article sharing to its live news section.

The app, one of the best newspaper tablet editions around, remains free of charge, and the paper continues to be one of the few to still have confidence in an advertising strategy. “I’m convinced, convinced, convinced that in a model like this there will be a growth in subscriptions and a growth in revenue for the coming years,” Guy Crevier, president and publisher of La Presse, told The Canadian Press earlier this year.

While many papers are pressing to build paid circulation revenue, often at the expense of advertising, La Presse is not afraid that it may be driving readers from to print to digital.

“How many readers (of the print edition) will be left at the end of the year, the end of next year and in three years? It’s the consumers who will decide,” Crevier said.

Because the La Presse+ app is more than an RSS feed reader, the app weighs in at just over 100 MB, much larger than many other newspaper apps. It’s worth the iPad storage space, so if you haven’t already, you should check it out.

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