Dennis has relaunched the UK website for its weekly printed news digest The Week after buying The First Post website to power its rolling daily news ambitions. But, for its new iPad app, The Week is preferring weekly content.
The new app was developed in-house by Dennis’ app team, the Dennis Media Factory, with help from design agency Clearleft and software developers Kaldor Group. It went live on iTunes Store on Friday, an is for the UK edition of the magazine only. A Dennis spokesperson tells us that an app for the U.S. edition of the magazine is due out early next year.
The new app is available only on iOS and is optimised for the iPad, but it has been written in HTML5 and so we may well see versions of the app coming to other platforms, too.
The Week is launching the app with the first four weeks free, courtesy of a sponsorship agreement with Rolex. Other launch advertisers include equally high-income-targeted brands American Express and Jaguar. Dennis notes that this is only the second time that Rolex has sponsored an app, the first being its work on bespoke apps for TED conferences.
After that period, non-print subscribers will have to pay £2.99 (about $4.75) per issue or £24.99 (around $40) per quarter. That is roughly comparable to the print edition prices in the UK, notes Kerin O’Connor, the CEO of The Week. “Our feeling is that you should be paying for the content, not whether it’s printed or digital,” he said.
Those who subscribe to The Week’s print edition will get the app for free for 12 weeks and will then be given the option of upgrading their subscription to a print/app bundle “for a nominal increment”, the company says. The magazine currently has a print circulation of 183,000, with the majority, 155,000, taking subscriptions.
The app will sit in the Newsstand section of iTunes Store.
Dennis has taken the “clean slate” approach to this app, and has cast the magazine’s print layout to one side in favor of a new format that takes advantage of the touch-screen capabilities of the iPad, while keeping other parts of The Week — the photographs, the fonts and the actual written content of the app (which looks like it will follow the magazine’s content, not that of the web, which is updated more regularly). Readers can navigate the sections via a menu to the left of the screen, and they can share articles by email — but so far that appears to be the extent of automatic sharing. (Users would need to copy and paste stories into other pages to share through social networks.)
O’Connor told paidContent that they had tried to reproduce the magazine as it looks into app format but “It just didn’t work,” he said. In particular, pages in the magazine that contained lots of smaller articles either weren’t easy to read, or navigate in terms of subject matter. “The layout doesn’t fit onto the size of an iPad well enough especially if you hold the device in landscape mode as people do.”
So far, the app is based around content from the weekly digest magazine — not The Week’s website, which is updated more regularly. O’Connor says this may change over time, “We may put more of the web content into the app when we understand more about how the app is used,” he told paidContent. “We want to see what our customers want first.”
The website, meanwhile, has recently seen a refresh, too, with much stronger branding for The Week (before, First Post took branding precedence).
It so happens that the magazine content isn’t actually online yet. O’Connor says that will come early next year, and will go behind a paywall, and will be a recreation of the tablet experience (a neat consequence of writing the app in HTML 5). The daily First Post co-branded website, meanwhile, will remain ad-supported and free to read. That site currently gets one million uniques per month.
Dennis in September initiated a new deal with Toura publishing that will see the development of dozens of apps based on Dennis magazine content, but at the time, Watson told paidContent that it would keep control of apps for the magazines themselves.