Category review: Heath & Fitness category attracting new digital magazine publishers
But many of the new titles launched are exclusive to the Apple Newsstand, are poorly created, or launched by app developers flooding the Newsstand with titles
The health and fitness category, Apple would have you believe, is going to be an important growth category for the company. Many of its current products like the iPhone, and also its new Apple Watch, have features that help consumers monitor their exercise activities, their heart rate, etc.
The Health & Fitness category is also one of the most popular Newsstand categories, as well. Today there are 653 free magazine apps available to be downloaded. But like the other categories, growth has slowed. There are now only 14 more free titles available since April of this year, and there are actually five less paid apps now available.
The number of titles in Apple’s Newsstand under health category dwarfs the number available from Amazon inside their Kindle store where there are only 42 titles. There are a few more new releases, but this is only because established magazines are slowing adding more platforms and are getting around to Amazon. Google Play makes it difficult to track the number of titles, but it really doesn’t matter as Google appears to be fumbling about in how it wants to cater to magazine publishers.
One thing common to all three major digital newsstands created by device makers is that the titles promoted are all from major publishers. Only in Apple’s Newsstand does one see self-published titles or titles from smaller publishers, but few are promoted.
Of the new titles, the health category sees plenty suspicious new titles, as well as new titles from self-publishers that are poorly produced.
[This section of the story has been deleted following two calls from the developer of very poorly designed and conceived digital magazine apps. The company has a very low opinion of freedom of the press, and apparently a very low opinion of iOS device owners. I really don’t want to hear from the developer again as they are the kind of people who should not be allowed into the App Store, or any legitimate digital newsstand. To make them happy, and hopefully get them to reconsider contacting me, or continuing to prey on iOS device owners, I have deleted the section on them and their digital magazines. However, if I see new apps launched into the Newsstand from this company I will take my complaints straight to the Apple App Store team.]
Apps get rejected all the time for silly reasons, but some developers seem to be having no problem launching Newsstand apps that deceive readers, and appear to be in obvious violation of the guidelines, such as the apps coming from Russian developers that promote one magazine in the app name, but sell other magazines from within the app itself.
Recently I spoke to a developer support supervisor and pointed some of the new apps being seen inside the Newsstand, as well as the general condition of the Newsstand itself. The supervisor was genuinely appalled and agreed that “this isn’t right.” The supervisor emailed me so that I could respond with my concerns – this email would then be forward to the App Store team, since they can not be contacted directly by outsiders. What I received in return as an automatic reply that left me with the strong impression that they don’t want input from outside the walls of Apple headquarters.
OK, fine, the Newsstand has become a place for amateurs and app developers taking advantage of lax quality controls. But commercial publishers still need to reach iPhone and iPad owners with their digital editions, and so I continue to fight the good fight.
As for those new self-publishers, they need help, too. Apple should gently redirect those apps with obvious errors to the developer support team – I have confidence they will end up with better apps in the end.