How do mobile newspaper applications work

Price and checkout for publishers on the iPad

Publishers smell spring fever with the iPad. Perhaps it will still be possible to save print products in the online world and win over paying users?
Yes, I consider the chance to be real, but there are some things to be done right on the way there (especially with regard to content and the application and its data management). In this post, I'll cover the pricing (and checkout) aspects of newspaper applications (including magazines) for the iPad. For the sake of simplicity, I call this “newspaper app”.
Advertising as a payment surrogate?
For me there are two types of online advertising: 1) Those that one likes to read / experience and 2) the yoke of the lack of a payment system on the Internet.
For me, advertising fun doesn't belong in the newspaper app itself, but in its own app. My choice of what I want takes place when choosing the app or as Donald Norman once said about widgets: "The user knows what to do just by looking: no picture, label or instruction needed ”. A nice example of such an app is “Guardian Eyewhitness”, in which the newspaper, together with Canon, publishes one excellent picture per day.
Now to the advertising that nobody wants, the prosthesis for missing payment systems. You usually experience this in the form of flexible, flashing elements that are placed in front of the content, like the bouncer of the noble club when a normal person wants to get in. This is not needed on the iPad, because there is a payment system for small amounts and, thanks to the Apple Store, users learn that they have to shell out something from time to time. At least it doesn't need this form of advertising if the reader is willing to pay.
Sell ​​app or free app
Apps that cost money are always the wrong way to go when it comes to newspaper apps. The (now disappearing) approach of packing every single newspaper / magazine issue into its own app is super wrong - this misdirection dates back to the time when Apple did not allow in-app billing.
But the sale of the app itself (such as the NZZ app for the iPhone or the Wired app for the iPad) is wrong. This is mainly because “everything is new”. If you haven't experienced how the newspaper feels on the iPad, how it works (offline versus online), whether you generally like the online consumption, whether the content is well adapted to the reading needs on the screen, etc. I have no opinion about it whether I want to pay. It's about gaining customers and their experiences. The aim is to win people over first and not to ask for money at the entrance. That's probably what you call an investment in the future.
Payment system
Obviously a very sensitive question from the point of view of the “emerging” publishers, but for me the answer is crystal clear. There are two options: 1) The offer uses the payment system of the Apple App Store or 2) a system outside of it ... it doesn't matter which one.
Yes, Apple wants a third of the transaction ... but they also do something for it. Apart from business arguments such as the real cost of a payment, it is about the aspect of impulse buying (“just push a button”) but about the (visual) integration into the Apple ecosystem. Apple has around 150 million credit cards on customer accounts… All of these people have pressed the aforementioned button before. I have also bought a number of times myself, although I once started with the idea that I “certainly never” want to pay money for apps. Every now and then you change your mind.
And now for the alternatives. Most publishers try to use their own systems. My purchase of an 11 issue subscription to the mirror for the iPad shows the nonsense. The order function integrated in the Spiegel's free app opens a Spiegel website for payment. In my case it didn't work, so I switch to the normal web version. Instead of “just pushing a button” I experienced a media break, spent minutes there and had to re-enter my résumé including credit card. Then I received an email with the activation code and since then my username at Spiegel is no longer “jstuker” but “spon-1275146559581” very original ...
Customer loyalty has nothing to do with the data in CRM, but with a deserved loyalty through good experiences.
Granularity and duration of the objects of purchase
The holy grail of publishers still seems to be the annual subscription. Whether it is the cost of invoicing on paper (see last paragraph), some nonsensical figures for the advertising industry or the mail delivery of the sheet. I don't understand why I have to submit to such a yoke in the digital world. In any case, the Tages Anzeiger has already announced its “great product” for CHF 185.–. Wrong and here, too, all market participants have to get used to a new model. Two thoughts.
Over the years I learned what a newspaper cost at the kiosk and by subscription. These prices inevitably serve as a basis for comparison. So what is the fair price if there is no printing and physical distribution (and where was the advertising again ;-)? Let's stay with the Tagi, where a “personal” print subscription costs CHF 374.-. If the 50% discount on the iPad subscription is the “physical agio”, Hal Varian has calculated well in “Newspaper Economics”. Let's see if this thinking settles down.
Now for the duration: a year is totally wrong. Since almost all physical problems are gone, I think about the user. I have the newspaper at home and might just want to take this digital version with me on vacation ... so a weekly subscription. Or I would like to buy individual days / sections that interest me more or when I prefer digital to paper. In addition, it is important to find a granularity that supports impulse buying. And the limit is one-digit and not three-digit ...
Price and checkout tips for publishing products on the iPad
1) No advertising (or at least can be turned off via payment)
2) The app is free and there is “real” content (e.g. a free subscription) as a “gateway drug”
3) If money is needed: Always use the payment system integrated in the Apple Store
4) Short and flexible purchase options that allow impulse buying and address user needs