Do news publishers even need an iPad app?

There’s interesting critique of the current selection of news apps for the Apple iPad over at MondayNote.com.

Without naming publishers or apps by name, the tech blog argues that “most are disappointing” and that in many cases, simply browsing a publication’s Website using Safari on the iPad would suffice. That’s probably correct. After all, the main reason desktop Websites don’t work well on the iPhone and other smartphones is simply the size of the screen. By its very design, the iPad solves that initial problem. How good are news apps on the iPad?

That isn’t to say that publishers should sit back and do nothing with respect to making their content more accessible on Web-enabled tablets and e-readers. As devices like the iPad (and whatever Google and others have in the pipeline) become more common in the wild, anybody who publishes a Website is going to need to take those devices into account during their next redesign. To be sure, there are use cases and features beyond simple reading that would justify the expense of building an app, especially as publishers begin to monetize their content via apps, something that has been famously difficult to do via the Web.

While I share the concerns of Jeff Jarvis and others about the proprietary, “walled garden” nature of Apple’s app ecosystem, I do think there are legitimate reasons for building an app, as part of a multi-channel publishing strategy. It may not prove to be absolutely necessary for all, though.

For those who do go the app route, the aforementioned Monday Note post offers some sensible pointers as to how media apps could be done better: downloadable content (for offline use), more video, and more interactivity, among other things.

How about you: Have you used any news apps that blew the Web-based browsing experience out of the water?

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