The New York Times announced this morning that it’s launching a new platform called Press Engine that competing publishers can use to create their own iPhone and iPad apps based on templates developed by The Times. (Nat Ives of AdAge broke the news ahead of The Times’ release.)
The idea is that publishers will reap the benefits of new advertising revenue generated by the apps, and The Times will reap the benefits of being paid a one-time licensing fee and a monthly maintenance fee for each publisher that signs on. So far, those include The Dallas Morning News, The Telegraph and the Times Co.’s own International Herald Tribune.
“Publishers will receive feature-rich applications based on The Times’s experience developing and designing mobile technology and apps,” said Michael Greenspon, general manager of The New York Times News Services, in a statement.
Sounds like a good deal for smaller publishers. But let’s not forget that The Times’ iPad app wasn’t exactly met with praise when it was unveiled a few months ago.
In fact, Steve Jobs reportedly hates the app more than anyone else.
Back in May, Gawker’s Ryan Tate reported that Jobs’ dissatisfaction with the app was “made known to senior Times Company executives,” and that Apple had not immediately profiled the app within its app store or even listed it under the “News” category for weeks after it launched.
It’s easy to imagine what Jobs hates about the app: It lacks much of the newspaper’s content, even as said content is available free on nytimes.com. Users have reviewed the app with headlines like “Where’s the content???,” “No content,” “Content?,” “Wow… disappointed” and “is an upgrade with full content planned?” To be fair, there are some kind words like “Fantastic…. love this,” but in aggregate the app has a rating of just 2.5 stars out of 5.
So will The Times be held responsible for rolling out a slew of equally unimpressive apps for other media outlets? We won’t find out until the fourth quarter of 2010, when Press Engine is slated to take off.
As for The Times’ own iPad troubles, we assume the paid iPad app the paper is developing will address some of the shortcomings of its existing free one.
Here’s the release about Press Engine:
NEW YORK, Aug 02, 2010 (BUSINESS WIRE) — The New York Times will launch Press Engine, a technology and design solution that allows publishers and media organisations to deliver their content across new platforms starting with iPhone and iPad applications, in the fourth quarter of 2010.
Through Press Engine, clients will be able to leverage The Times’s experience in building acclaimed digital products designed to grow loyal readership, create an expanded subscription model and provide new opportunities for advertisers to reach that loyal readership.
The Telegraph Media Group and A.H. Belo Corporation-owned The Dallas Morning News, The Providence Journal and The Press-Enterprise are the first publishers to licence Press Engine. Several New York Times Company-owned newspapers, including the International Herald Tribune, The Gainesville Sun and The Lakeland Ledger, will also participate in the product launch.
“Publishers will receive feature-rich applications based on The Times’s experience developing and designing mobile technology and apps,” said Michael Greenspon, general manager, The New York Times News Services. “We are providing our expertise in news reader applications to allow publishers of all sizes to offer their readers elegant applications for iPhone and iPad devices.”
“The pace of change in digital technology means that media companies will increasingly be looking at ways of collaborating in order to create world-class consumer experiences,” said Edward Roussel, digital editor, Telegraph Media Group. “The New York Times has a global reputation for innovation and excellence in technology, and Press Engine offers an opportunity to harness that expertise to showcase Telegraph content on iPad and iPhone devices.”
“Introducing new digital platforms is one of the ways that The Dallas Morning News is shaping its portfolio to provide compelling, relevant content through the vehicles readers want,” said John McKeon, president and general manager of The Dallas Morning News. “Press Engine puts The Times’s technological savvy to work for us, delivering premier news reader applications that allow advertisers to reach our engaged audiences where they live, work and play.”
The iPhone and iPad application templates will include the following features:
- partial offline reading and the ability to save articles;
- share functionality;
- photo gallery, audio and video;
- horizontal and vertical reading;
- simple search; and
- device-standard advertising units.
The business model will be designed so that publishers control and own any advertising and subscription revenue on their applications. Clients will pay a one-time licence fee and monthly maintenance; they will also have the ability to opt in to future upgrades.
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