‘Assholes’ The Next Web ‘suck’ for stopping making an Android product that loses them money

Martin Belam by Martin Belam, 31 December 2012

No, that isn’t an Onion headline, that’s the verdict of some of the commenters underneath The Next Web’s announcement that they are ceasing production of their Android magazine edition.

Their decision is based on the fact that “for every Android user that downloads an Android magazine we have 80 iOS downloads”, and that the magazine was taking them 3-to-4 days each month to convert from iPad version to Android version. They’d expected the market to be bigger:

“We had gotten enough requests for it and had gotten the impression there were thousands of anxious Android tablets owners holding their breath for an Android version of our magazine. Unfortunately we’ve found out that although Android users are very vocal they aren’t very active when it comes to downloading and reading magazines. Or maybe they just don’t like our magazine. You never know.”

That 80:1 ratio sounds severe, but other figures that have come out recently back it up. The Guardian Developer Blog published a breakdown of mobile traffic to m.guardian.co.uk. Even though Android is scoring some big numbers in handset activation, when it comes to usage, it appears that iOS dominates. More than two-thirds of mobile traffic to the Guardian is on iOS devices.

Developing for Android is difficult for publishers if they want to support the huge variety of devices with different screen-sizes, resolutions and capabilities. That is why a couple of companies that I’ve been designing for recently have opted to try and cover their bases with responsively designed web-app-ish sites, rather than invest in native Android app development.

Fans of Android will argue that there is a chicken-and-egg situation going on here, and that until publishers provide comparable levels of content, there won’t be a comparable market, but whenever publishers put figures out, it does make you wonder at the economics of specific Android apps and editions. Stern in Germany have a weekly print circulation of 800,000, and a digital subs base of 16,000. Of those 16,000, just 5% — 8,00 copies — are on Android. In the comments under The Next Web’s announcements, one member of staff put their Android audience figure at 1,000.

It remains to be seen how long publishers can produce bespoke content for audiences in three and four figures, and whether 2013 might see a retreat from native Android publishing.

5 Comments

For me, this shows perhaps the ultimate problem for publishers. Not that Android users are not engaged, but that you have to format content specially for every bloomin' platform. Really, it shouldn't be like this.

Sadly we all know that this isn't going to change any time soon.

Well this all ties in quite nicely with this, it seems:
http://www.lukew.com/ff/entry.asp?1672

Well, if the publishers haven't provided the Android users with a suitable content format, then this information should not be surprising at all.

The ratio between iOS and Android user download is amazing. Moreover, the conversion process is time consuming so cutting off the Android version is very sensible.

@fotoblur we just released our new iPad magazine app a few days ago and the first thing we heard from a few of our members was..."What about Android?" I could tell those people felt left out and we felt a bit bad about it.

However, we had done the analysis early on and this is what we found:

In looking at a years worth of stats out of 5M visitors in 2012, just under 300,000 used Apple's iPad to view our site. The next tablet on the list is Google's Nexus 7 which registered just under 3,000 visitors in the same time period. However, this tablet's time on the market has only been about 6 months so the future could be quite different.

it was a no brainer to focus on iPad as the platform of choice to develop our app.

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