October 2, 2012

Nieman Lab | The Next Web | News release
The New York Times launches a new “experimental” Web app today for its subscribers with iPads.

So if you’re a Times subscriber you can now access its content on your iPad through the main NYTimes for iPad app, The Collection fashion and style app, the Flipboard app, plain old nytimes.com in the Safari browser, the experimental Skimmer Web app and now the new tablet Web app at App.NYTimes.com.

The NYTimes Web App, for subscribers only.

Where does the new Web app fit in among all those other options? A subscriber-only tablet Web app offers a substitution, not a complement, for the native app. So it opens a door for the Times to potentially, eventually, sidestep Apple’s 30 percent cut of subscriptions sold through the native app.

“If the New York Times was to go HTML5 entirely and remove its native iOS app, as the [Financial Times] has, this would be an embarrassing blow for Apple – the NYT was a launch partner for Newsstand,” The Next Web’s Martin Bryant writes.

TechCrunch writer Darrell Etherington speculates that the Financial Times’ success with its Web app strategy may be too attractive for other major publishers like the Times to ignore:

The Financial Times introduced a web app in June 2011, and has since seen its subscriber base climb to outnumber print, with 2.7 million users accessing their content via the web app as of July. Watching that progress has probably encouraged the NYT to make this move. And should it also continue to see digital growth, as well as achieve ownership over a greater percentage of resulting revenues, we may see HTML5 become the vector of choice for more news organizations.

But shutting off the native iPad app wouldn’t be an easy move, Nieman Lab’s Joshua Benton points out, since the Times “has invested significant resources into being platform-native, building out apps for iPhone, iPad, Android, and Windows Phone.” But, he also notes, “Arthur Sulzberger has spoken about the need to be ‘platform agnostic’; one can read that as an endorsement of being on lots of platforms, or one can read it as an endorsement of being on HTML5 everywhere.”

The Times’ news release explains what the Web app offers:

The Web App boasts several unique features, including four ways to read and discover The Times:

  1. Trending: The Trending section lists the top 25 trending Times articles on Twitter from the past hour. This section functions in conjunction with Cascade, a proprietary data visualization tool developed by The Times Company’s Research & Development group, which monitors the sharing of content on Twitter.
  2. Times Wire: A continuous, reverse chronological feed of the latest articles, videos and slide shows published on NYTimes.com.
  3. Today’s Paper: In this reading format, users can browse the app like they would the newspaper, with sections organized under print topic headings.
  4. All Sections: The full breadth of Times coverage, from breaking news, to video and photography.

Earlier: Tablet-first business news org Quartz chooses Web over native | Pew: After email, getting news is the most popular activity on smartphones, tablets

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Jeff Sonderman (jsonderman@poynter.org) is the Digital Media Fellow at The Poynter Institute. He focuses on innovations and strategies for mobile platforms and social media in…
Jeff Sonderman

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