“Windows 8: Opportunities for publishers” - Frank Wolfram & Johan Mortelmans at #TAS12

 by Martin Belam, 7 November 2012

I recently spoke at WAN-IFRA’s Tablet & App Summit, which formed part of the World Publishing Expo in Frankfurt. You can download all of my notes from the day in an ebook for iBooks, for Kindle or as a PDF.

The final session of the day was about Windows 8 and the opportunities it might provide for publishers and media companies. The half-hour was split into two parts — Frank Wolfram of the SYZYGY Group agency gave an overview of some features that might appeal to media companies, and then there was a case study of Belgian newspaper De Standaard building an app. Here are my notes:

“Windows 8 — the one-for-all OS” - Frank Wolfram

Frank Wolfram identified three key areas where he thought Windows 8 might make a difference for publishers:

1. Reach

He made the point that by 2016, Windows 8 apps are expected to have mounted a significant challenge to iOS in the tablet market. Whilst Android will continue to flourish on smartphones, analysts predict that the established install base of Windows within enterprises will lead to the development of a healthy market for apps on the platform. Tablets are being developed by a range of manufacturers at various sizes and price points, and the Windows 7 install base of 690m machines already dwarfs the 125m running iOS.

2. User experience

Frank praised the “content before chrome” approach of the Windows 8 “Modern UI”, and said that with functionality like Live tiles publishers were in a position to really take advantage of that colossal reach. He showed the Bing media apps, positioning it as a great opportunity for publishers to get their content onto the desktop or tablet screen.

The example he showed involved the user noticing a key logo to indicate paywalled content, and then signing up to subscribe to an editorial service. He described this as “a nice user journey” — but I’m not so sure. It is lovely for Microsoft to have given US news providers this presence in the OS, but it did remind me a little of having something like Bloomberg news services automagically added into my bookmarks by default in IE. It didn’t make me click on it, because it isn’t a service I’d use, but it did make me slightly resentful of Microsoft making customisation choices on my behalf.

3. Flexible business models

Wolfram explicitly said that by being late to market with an app store, Microsoft had “learned from the mistakes of others.” The Windows 8 app store has virtually every combination of business model available to you, from free apps, to paid apps using Microsoft infrastructure, to supporting entirely third party commercial models.

If you sell your apps using Microsoft’s platform, like Apple they insist on a 30% bite of the cherry themselves. However, Microsoft are capping this to the first $25,000 of lifetime revenue on an app, and after you reach that their share drops to “just” 20% of every transaction. They also offer in-app purchases, and an off-the-shelf ad platform. To publish into the Windows App store companies need to pay a $99 registration fee, with the cost pegged at $49 for individual developers.

“Building De Standaard for Windows 8” - Johan Mortelmans and Twipe

Johan Mortelmans, Digital Innovation Manager at Corelio Publishing in Belgium, went on to present a case study of building a Windows 8 app for De Standaard in Belgium. Given my recent blog post about the tumbling circulation fortunes of the British national press over the last five year, I was astonished to see a chart that showed their circulation had risen by 22% over the last decade.

De Standaard follow what they call the 0-1-7 model. “Zero” is for commodity news that is published as soon as it breaks. This is always free. “One” is for content published one day after the news, where the paper adds value and analysis. This is paid for content, as is the “seven”, which represents weekly magazines and supplements that are published throughout the week.

They partnered with Twipe mobile to build their Windows 8 app, and wanted to “create the newspaper of the future” — to go further than simply producing a PDF page-turner, whilst also being conscious of the cost. Johan said they believed it was important to be in the Windows 8 marketplace early on in order to learn about what works and what doesn’t, and to help them be recognised as an innovator.

They’ve taken the approach that there should be a unified user experience across their product portfolio, and so they’ve not gone overboard with native looking features. I don’t myself agree with this approach. I’m of the opinion that for the majority of users a “consistent” user experience means that all the things on their phone or tablet feel native and use similar interaction patterns, not that they can hop from one brand’s product across five devices and notice that they are all designed similarly.

The Twipe platform itself looked like a solid idea though, with it using responsive templates and HTML5 to deliver the product.


One of the challenges with publishing into the new space of apps and tablets is how to make money, and how best to work with advertisers. My next set of notes will be Kate Collins presenting a case study from Canada’s Toronto Star of working directly with advertisers to try and foster innovation in advertising.

This is one of a series of blog posts about the WAN-IFRA Tablet & App Summit at the World Publishing Expo in Frankfurt. You can download all of my notes from the day in a free ebook for iBooks, for Kindle or as a PDF.

“The UX of publishing for tablets and smartphones” - Martin Belam
“Taking Stern magazine to the iPad” - David Heimburger
“Condé Nast place value in digital reach over digital sales” - Jamie Jouning & Jamie Bell
“Behind the curve - the media and the new App economy” - Stijn Schuermans
“Brazil’s newspapers close ranks against Google and Apple” - Caio Túlio Costa
“Launching ePresse to challenge Apple and Amazon in France” - Philippe Jannet
“Optimising the FT using HTML5 and customer data” - Stephen Pinches
“Windows 8: Opportunities for publishers” - Frank Wolfram & Johan Mortelmans
“Toronto Star’s Ad Lab for digital advertising innovation” - Kate Collins

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