We have moved: Harrods app update tells its digital magazine readers that it is time to move on
Update to the Apple Newsstand app for the Harrods Magazine informs readers that future issue of the digital magazine will be found in the store’s stand-alone shopping app
Way back in a the neolithic era of digital editions – you know, a couple of years ago – only a handful of brands had yet to jump into digital publishing and launch their own tablet magazine. One of those brands, the London department store Harrods, launched a digital version of its customer magazine into the Apple Newsstand.
TNM noticed the release and wrote about it, but one think I noticed when rereading that 2012 story is how little I said about the app itself. It was a native digital edition, and a very good one, but little was said about it. Why? I think because I assumed more and more publishers would be creating native digital editions at least as good as the app Harrods Magazine. I was wrong. Generally speaking, brand magazines are often far better than those produced by traditional print magazine publishers who too often decide that the cheap and easy way to get their print magazines into the app stores is better than actually providing readers of digital editions with an enjoyable digital magazine product.
“Digital enables us to not only communicate effectively on the right medium, but to have that appeal and connectivity with the customers of tomorrow. We have to keep investing in digital because that is the future,” Guy Cheston, Harrods media sales director, told TargetTech’s ComputerWeekly early this year.
Today, Harrods updated its magazine app in order to kill it off. The update changes the app’s library in order to tell readers that they can now find issues of the magazine inside the brand’s other app, simply called Harrods.The Harrods stand-alone app actually predates the Newsstand app. Launched in 2011, the app was the store’s iPhone app and for quite a while contained a warning to iPad users that while the app would work on their tablets, it was designed for the iPhone (ah, the good old days when people actually downloaded and used iPhone apps on their iPads – don’t see that anymore).
Nothing else has changed: the digital magazine is still excellent, and it still takes far too long to download. But now readers must download the stand-alone app (if they haven’t done so already) in order to continue to read the store’s magazine.
Why was this done? The answer most likely has to do with the store not wanting to confuse readers once iOS 9 is released and the Newsstand goes away (kind of). Later this month, when Apple releases the next generation of its mobile operating system, the Newsstand becomes a standard folder and the apps inside it will then have standard icons. Readers can then move the app out of the folder, if they wish. This means that those publishers that have both a stand-alone app and a Newsstand app could create a conflict in the minds of their readers – which app are they to use.
The simple solution, of course, is to dump the Newsstand app and incorporate their digital magazines into the stand-alone app. That may work sometimes, sometimes not. But the way Harrods is handling this could be a good model for some publishers. Of course, Harrods Magazine is free to read, and the brand not very concerned with audits or things publishers may be (the old magazine app did reach about 120,000 customers in the UK, the company claimed). So some publishers may be hesitant to make a radical move that could cost them digital readers.
Then again, maybe the demise of the Newsstand might give some publishers a chance to press the reset button on their digital publishing efforts. We’ll see if any do as Harrods has done and move readers to new apps.