End of the Newsstand means many publishers will be without logical categories for their apps
Many publishers are unaware that their apps are already in the main part of the App Store, often miscategorized, or inside categories far too broad to serve their needs
The end of the Newsstand, presumably coming with the release of iOS 9, will mean that many digital newspapers and magazines will find themselves thrown into categories not necessarily suited for their digital publications.
To review, each Newsstand sits inside a subcategory, but they also sit inside a regular app category. Take, for instance, Engineering Inc, the house organ for the American Council of Engineering Companies, it sits in the Professional & Trade category along with most other B2B magazines. Its category outside the Newsstand is Business, which makes perfect sense. But Green Buiding & Design, which is also in the Professional & Trade category inside the Newsstand, is currently in Books in the main App Store. Why that category was chosen is a mystery (it could simply have been a mistake, one not worrying about since the Newsstand was what was important to the publisher at the time the app was released).
There are plenty of other examples like this, especially in categories where there is no real equivalent inside the main part of the App Store. While most B2B publisher will want their apps in Business, where do the magazines inside Literary Magazines & Journals go? or Parenting & Family? or Brides & Weddings?
Almost all magazines inside the Brides category have chosen as their App Store category Lifestyle – again this probably makes sense, but there is a lot of diverse apps inside that Category, including parenting apps.
But the death of the Newsstand, while eliminating the problem of apps inside an unwanted folder, will not improve the prospects for app discoverability. Inside the Newssstand it is still possible to find the newest apps released by sorting the apps by Paid and Free, then resorting them by Release Date. Inside the App Store, in general, there is no such mechanism, making discovering a new app practically impossible. Also, inside a category like Business, Apple loves to promote a handful of apps. Look at the total number of Business magazines it is currently promoting: lucky 13. That’s it. There are nearly 600 publications inside of the Professional & Trade category, plus another 1000+ in the Business category, and Apple helps readers discover 13 of them.
Then there is the issue of that Newsstand folder. Glad its is disappearing, right? Not so fast.
If an avid reader really is going to have a bunch of new app icons suddenly appearing on their iPad or iPhone after they have installed iOS 9 what do you think they are going to do with all those apps? I know what I do with stand-alone newspaper and magazine apps: I put them in a new folder. A folder!
(As Buzzfeed reminds us, many iOS device owners, as soon as they get their new devices, stuff all those horrible Apple apps into a folder. Is this where many will shove the News app, as well?)
The demise of the Newsstand is like the person who stuck in the middle of the desert without water, without a way to get out, then discovers they have a hole in their shoe that is causing their foot to blister from the heat of the sand. A guy comes by in a Land Rover and throws the poor soul a new shoe and drives off. Yep, one problem is solved, but…
The good news for digital publishers is that they probably do not have to worry about the app itself, early reports say that inside iOS 9 Newsstand app automatically show up as stand-alone apps. Also, each app has its own icon, even if publishers are using their issue covers today, they had to submit a default icon when the app first launched. This is what shows when you look at the apps on your iPhone or iPad inside iTunes on your desktop. Check under “Apps” and you’ll see a list of apps with similar icons, even the publications.
But publishers should take the time this summer to review their app descriptions and the categories they have chosen. They may find that their digital edition, when the Newsstand goes away, is suddenly is the wrong place inside the App Store.
Final thought: the Newsstand allowed many publishers to just think of their digital editions as an extension of their print publication, with the Newsstand simply being the digital equivalent of a physical newsstand. With its demise, we are reminded again that these digital editions are apps Publishers should have been thinking about this all along, but the Newsstand (and other digital newsstands) have a way of making publishers feel somehow outside the digital revolution, outside the world of app development. For some, they will have to think again about whether their companies should be more digitally native, or if they will continue to outsource all their digital publishing efforts to third parties.