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Why we’ve decided to stop producing TNW Magazine for Android (thenextweb.com)
15 points by amatheus 1754 days ago | hide | past | web | 48 comments | favorite

- On Android's fragmentation: From my experience, any developer or publisher who makes a big deal out of Android's fragmentation are just lazy people making excuses. There's ALWAYS a way to make the same iOS app on Android, and if any devices can't run your Android app, then that device just sucks too much. If it doesn't, either you do, or in this case, your publishing software.

- "You make a beautiful magazine for the iPad, and then you dumb it down for Android." Probably because your developer who told you this has no experience developing any real apps for Android and is forcing iOS's UI elements into it? Or maybe you're bombarding your magazine with too much content in the first place (you mentioned embedded music--seriously, isn't that information pollution?). I've seen beautiful apps on iOS that offer the same, consistent experience in Android, e.g., Evernote. What is your excuse for not pulling this off?

- "For every Android user that downloads an Android magazine we have 80 iOS downloads." But what about the Android users who read your content via your mobile website? Or, for many Android tablets from Samsung, via Pulse? Exactly what is your value proposition to these users why they should download your app when they can get most of your content for free? The way I see it, Android users are just being smart because they find ways to bypass having to pay for free content.

- "...with the current state of technology and the way the market is divided we can’t afford to invest in it anymore." Your target market is fragmented, DEAL WITH IT. If you want to make money, see it as an untapped opportunity and seize it. It's really TNW's call, but to me, their reasons for not developing for Android are just like fat people's excuses for not going to the gym.

> maybe you're bombarding your magazine with too much content in the first place

As a mobile developer, I see this attitude as very dangerous. When an aspect of user experience is prohibitively difficult to achieve with somebody's pet platform (Android, iOS, HTML5, ePub, whatever), they tend to attack the need for that feature or experience.

Sometimes the lack of a feature really is beneficial - say, for security or privacy. Most of the time though, this is just frustration turning in to defensiveness. (Example: the now-dead argument that Android doesn't need smooth scrolling and animations.)

Yeah, but embedded music? Why would a magazine have embedded music though?

There actually is significant fragmentation in the Android user base, and it's harder to deliver significant apps with equality of performance and features for Android than iOS. See, for example, the BBC's experience: http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/2012/12/android_updat...

Yes, but the reality of the market is that not everybody is getting an iPhone, and not all Android users get high-end Android devices. It is still THE market, nonetheless. I don't think any blame should go to either iOS or Android because it's the people who patronized these products. However, it would be just as absurd to blame the market you're trying to target. If you want to reach as many people as possible, you're going to end up grouping them into categories anyway.

Note that BBC is talking about the widely-varying hardware of Android devices, not the OS itself.

Also note that developing for widely-varying hardware + Android is vastly preferable to developing for widely-varying hardware + widely-varying proprietary OSes.

I suppose this is a call to action for a better magazine publishing tool. It is an interesting challenge, and one illustrates the 'ecosystem' effect. They're publishing software supplier (Mag+) is better at supporting iOS than Android, so supporting Android becomes too onerous.

On the one hand that is sad for TNW, after all more subscribers is always good, but it is really bad for Mag+ since it points out a gaping hole in their strategy. By not investing in Android they leave the larger market share of Android devices open to another publishing company, and when that company uses the strength of their Android base to enter the iOS market, their customers (like TNW) will switch because they are all about the subscriber numbers.

Lets see how Mag+ responds ...

So, you stopped releasing a version for android because the software you're using can't deal with the formatting properly (even though it says it can) and the material you're using is locked to one provider... The majority of the blame definitely lies somewhere other than on android's doorstep.

They did put the effort in to overcome those issues, only to discover that for every 80 iOS users they had 1 Android user, so they concluded that continuing to do the work wasn't justified because there was a lack of demand. If they'd had comparable demand from Android users, they'd have continued to invest.

But if they had a crappy product for Android is it any wonder that their uptake ratio was so out of kilter? If they had platform feature parity at launch your argument would be valid but they didn't so you cannot draw the conclusion you have drawn.

It's not really my conclusion - it's the conclusion from the TWN piece. That said, even though it's not a controlled experiment, the fact that they didn't have feature parity doesn't completely invalidate their experience. 80-1 is a high ratio particularly for a free product that people presumably would have expected to improve over time if they had been interested.

See Zaheer's comment on this thread too: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=4991585

Android is Open Source, so it belongs to everyone. Content producers need to do their part alongside developers to make it great, even if that means putting in more investment than supporting a propriety platform like iOS.

> Content producers need to do their part alongside developers to make it great

Uh...why? Why should they "do their part" for a platform where they have no users and don't see a likely growth of them?

I am an Android user and developer, but I am also realistic.

Because that investment will pay off over time as more and more people move to Android, and a platform that isn't controlled by a single company will make innovation easier for everyone.

Most businesses aren't run as charities. If I can make 80 times the money from iOS as from Android I don't care if it's open or closed. Hot dog vendors are not looking to build your utopia. If there's a free place they can sell hotdogs but only bring in $10 a day and there's a highly regulated place where they can bring in $800 a day they are going to take the one where they make more money.

Android already has the bulk of the market share, if they are losing 80 to 1 there's something fundamentally broken in the ecosystem. Stop blaming the hot dog vendors.

There's some legwork to do to make the claims you're making. Maybe you should step back and establish niceties like why people who are in their target demos will flock to Android "over time" and quantify how the NPV of investing now will pay off later.

It's well known that Android has overtaken iOS in terms of the base OS. A hardware advantage that Apple had is almost gone now, so the only thing missing is content. I don't think iOS buyers are fanatics or taken in by marketing because there is more marketing of Android. I think they have been choosing a better product.

So, now that hardware and the OS no-longer favor iOS, it's simply down to content providers to make the investment. Technologists bought in to Android because it's open, long before it became the best platform. Why shouldn't content producers do the same?

"It's well known that Android has overtaken iOS in terms of the base OS. "

This is not well known, although it's an opinion often voiced here.

"Why shouldn't content producers do the same?"

Because they are not utopian technologists? This article is about a content producer that invested in Android yet failed. Instead of talking about how the content producers need to do more, we should be talking about why this effort failed.

Here's a start: when you buy an iphone today the Newsstand is one of a handful of Apps you start with. It's featured and people click on it and then many of them start buying and consuming content. What is the competing experience on Android? I assume there's no equivalent to the standalone Newsstand App installed by default on the phone. I assume they hit Play, which incidentally is terribly named and many customers never click on ever because they think it only leads to pokemon. Then they have to know that Magazines on their Device are a thing now and find them on which may be easy or hard in Play but is still an order of magnitude harder than it is on iOS.

> It's well known that Android has overtaken iOS in terms of the base OS.

I wouldn't say it's "well known" at all and I certainly wouldn't say it in such definite terms--and I am an Android user.

> Why shouldn't content producers do the same?

Because they have not yet decided that their projected returns from devoting significant resources to Android outweighs the opportunity costs? They have no ties to Android unless they will realize benefits from targeting it. The purchase patterns of current Android customers doesn't make me as a user and a fan of the platform think they're going to make back their money on investment, so I certainly don't think that they're unreasonable to want to actually see some assurances of a decent return before investing in the platform.

Sorry, Android is controlled by a single company.

I doubt that would change things.

iOS users are not price sensitive and Apple doesn't make any pretense that content is free. People who buy into the Apple world are choosing to buy into an ecosystem where they are going to have to buy content from a collection of proprietary 'Stores'. Apple is well known for the iTunes store and the App store so it's a conscious choice for their users.

Most Android devices (obviously not the highest end ones) are sold on price, and Google as a brand is known for providing free, advertising supported content. It's no great surprise that people who choose that ecosystem expect to get free stuff and don't want to be buying a lot of digital content.

If they'd wanted that they'd have bought an iOS device.

I have an application out for Android & iPhone both with same exact functionality. The Android version sells maybe 10 a day max while iPhone constantly sells 10x that. I'm becoming more and more convinced the Android market is just not that attractive.

Other than games, when I see apps available on both and that were ported from the iOS version it is very apparent they are not "proper" Android apps. Big clues are having menu and back buttons. Others are using builtin 3rd party integration (eg fb, twitter, dropbox) instead of the system.

A well structured Android application is like a mashup of different screens, processing (services), event handlers (broadcast receivers), data (content providers), user accounts etc. And it works with other components on the system, not its own little island as on iOS.

You haven't stated what your app is so this issue may not apply. A good example of a bad app is "Beat The Traffic" which is terrible on Android being an iOS port.

I didn't downvote this and I know that's an issue but mine was not a port. In fact I created the Android version even before the iPhone version. The app as Steko mentioned below also has a very good rating so its not quality as he mentioned.

I'm really not clear why this comment was voted down. If you disagree, I'm very interested in knowing what the issue is. Speak up!

I didn't downvote it but the nth "blame the developer" comment seems to be offbase. I did find the poster's app[1] and the Android one is higher rated by a full star so it's not a quality issue, it's a platform issue.

[1] Tags for Likes:



For any kind of app or just your kind of app?

What is your application?

Sorta late but another commenter above linked to it.

There have been a lot of comments blaming stingy Android users and poor ports for poor sales on Android compared to iOS. I think there's a third factor: exposure & marketing. I'm an Android user, I know that I've read articles from thenextweb before, but I did not know that they actually had an application/magazine for sale.

Then again, I'm an iOS user who occasionally reads their articles also, and did not have any idea they had an app/magazine.

Suggestion: stop making it for iOs as well and make the site work properly in any browser.

I really don't understand why news sites bother with dedicated apps. It doesn't sound like anything they're doing couldn't be handled by web design these days, music, video, images, layout etc.

Sidenote: From the writeup it sounds like TNW is struggling more with their tooling than with Android. Anybody know of better alternatives?

Ease of sales. It's easier to sell an app than a subscription through a Web paywall. This is also why more developers sell Mac apps through the App Store than direct now. Psychology, discoverability, and ease of making impulse purchases all comes into play.

I could see that for something like NYT, but TNW doesn't offer subscriptions.

Do people discover web sites through an app store?

I wonder if there's an opportunity there?

Ah, I'm not familiar with the TNW magazine so didn't realize it was free. In that case, it's because of advertising rates.

I run several e-mail newsletters that would work just as well as Web sites but the CPM is 10x higher for e-mail than Web so I use the format. I imagine they can sell the magazine by the page at a healthy rate in a way run of site banners wouldn't work.

Actually somebody else here pointed out that strangely they offer a subscription to additional content via the iOS app -- so I may be wrong. I would think they'd make it prominent on the web page as well to get more eyes on a way towards revenue.

They offer an optional subscription through in-app purchase on iOS.

I imagine they get a lot more support that way than they would if they put it on the web with a 'donate' button, so basically they are putting their effort into the audience who is willing to pay them.

Why would they just give it away rather than going to the market that values their product?

Exactly. When your content is text and photos, there is no reason you can't make it web only, optimized for various resolutions.

The selling point of the magazine is that it's not just the website, it has it's own content.

So put the content on the website and charge for it?

Some people do that, why should we care if they want to try selling content in a different way. I'm not here to run everyone's business for them. They invested in iOS and in Android and one failed. If you don't want to read the obvious lesson here and instead pivot to a tangent about how their whole business model is wrong feel free.

I was not saying that. Rather I was pointing out that having exclusive content in the magazine is not a valid argument against making the site work properly in every browser and discontinuing the iOS version.

The valid argument is that it's generally harder to convince people to pay for web content than it is for content on iOS where this product is already successful, presumably because iOS users are a self-selected group who are more willing to pay for digital content.

There doesn't seem to be any argument for making the site work 'properly' in 'every' browser and discontinuing the iOS version other than a dislike for iOS or iOS users.

Why should they discontinue a successful product?

I think all the people blaming TNW or their tools or the lack of publishing platforms are all just missing the point as, despite market share, Android fails by many of the app and content dollar metrics. The point being missed is that Google might simply not have enough credit cards. Despite being one of the most valuable and trusted brands in the world, Google is not a brand people have trusted with their credit card for very long. Apple and Amazon have been doing it since 2003 and 1994 and have pretty good reputations for customer service. Google is still building that and until they do they may continue to under-perform their market share in some of these measures.

"The point being missed is that Google might simply not have enough credit cards."

Or, perhaps Android users just don't wish to be nickle and dimed into buying stuff.

Cynical view, but even myself as a v affluent individual + owner and lover of several apple mac computers shuns iOS because frankly I don't wish to pay for every app and content I might consume. Case in point is this NextWeb magazine - sounds like it actually costs money to buy. I'm not at all interested, esp if I can visit the website for free.

Android has a higher install rate than iOS but iOS tops dollar metrics because it is the platform of choice of those with the most disposable income.

The demographics are certainly part of it but I doubt they favor Apple at anything like an 80:1 ratio.

It looks like there isn't much downloads for blog-specific magazines on Android. Engadget's Distro app only has 50K+ downloads.

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