If You're Going To Ask People To Pay For Your App, NYT, You Should Make Sure It Doesn't Suck

from the just-a-suggestion dept

We’ve been quite critical of the NYTime’s “Emperor’s New Paywall,” but there’s another aspect to the discussion that goes beyond just the “paywall” itself, but the fact that part of that “paywall” is really granting access to either a smartphone or iPad app. Of course, they’re charging an awful lot for the privilege of having access to the app, and you’d think if they were doing that, the app had better be damn good. Unfortunately, that appears to not be the case. Lots of people are giving the apps pretty bad reviews. Yes, some of them are just complaining about the price, but even if you ignore those, the people who are actually paying seem to be complaining quite a bit as well. In particular, many are angry that it removed functionality from the old app, and people who had used the old app to archive favorite stories had them all deleted. Others are complaining that the app seems to crash all the time, and does not appear to be well implemented at all.

This raises another danger of “charging” for things that might otherwise be free. When you put up a price on things, you also increase expectations. If you fail to meet those expectations, you could face some serious backlash (not to mention customer service costs). It’s really quite amazing that in those 14 months and with that $40 million, it appears that the NY Times didn’t really spend all that much money on actually making their smartphone and tablet apps work well.

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Companies: ny times

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Comments on “If You're Going To Ask People To Pay For Your App, NYT, You Should Make Sure It Doesn't Suck”

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17 Comments
Christopher Gizzi (profile) says:

Lesson in FAIL

The whole effort smacks of incompetence. The pricing, the access, the workarounds, the investment costs, the lack of distinction between products and services (vs paper, vs apps, vs website), the customer service, the illogical arguments, the changing features, and the obscured realities just says this is a humongous study in failure at every level of its business.

It’s amazing how much failure there appears to be at the NY Times. They are failing at every turn. And I’m really surprised by it. Even if you think that pay walls can work (which I don’t), the execution on this is horrible.

Christopher Gizzi (profile) says:

Odd Quotes from Yahoo

Something else struck out as odd to me in the Yahoo article, this quote from the author which I thought the audience, here, might appreciate (because it’s been suggested otherwise):

“They are a company, after all, and simply giving the product away for free for years and years doesn’t make for good business.”

I think many of us believe there is a way to compete with free. In fact, the author even highlights this as a failure on the NY Times’ part:

“If you can’t immediately roll out an unbeatable user experience, how can you expect people to thrown down several hundred dollars when there are dozens of other news outlets they can frequent instead for free?”

Anonymous Coward says:

Talking about apps, could we get a copyrightman app?

That video was awesome!

I even have a suggestion for the next one, put a sea Somali pirate, with some gangsters and some bootleggers complaining about how filesharing has put them out of business and they need to do something about, then put copyrightman saying I approve of this, maybe Clements and others labels and studios CEO’s should be in there too LoL

The idea is under CC C0, this probably guarantee nobody who uses that idea from me will see me ever trying to extort them šŸ™‚

Danny (profile) says:

something I focused on this morning

I really like the New York Times and I am hopeful they find a way to stay in business. They have great content that I enjoy reading.

In fact, I have been using their iPad app for almost the full year I’ve had my iPad. It is decent; it got better from the early days last summer. I don’t like the UX as much as USA Today or the Washington Post (my favorite UX of the newspaper apps). It is much better than the AP app, which belongs in a UX hall of shame somewhere.

Or at least all this holds true through late last week. The first time I hit the new paywall in the app I took Paul Krugman’s advice. I deleted the app from my iPad and added several NY Times RSS feeds of interest to Google Reader (which I read on my iPad via Feeddler).

This morning I was talking with a friend–a long time business publication editor who is just as flabbergasted as me–and surfaced the obvious in our discussion:

I used to read the NY Times on my iPad and would see many display ads presented to me via the NY Times app. Now I read the NY Times on my iPad and never see a revenue generating ad at all.

I didn’t mind the ads before; It isn’t at all clear to me what the Times thinks its gaining by pushing me away from looking at them now.

I guess the Times could decide to shut off their RSS feeds. But the result of that wouldn’t drive me to a subscription–there are so many more sources of free and interesting information than I have time to read each day. I will simply substitute some other decent sources for theirs.

Arthur says:

Digital price with home delivery is cheaper than digital only!

Why is no one talking about the fact that you can order 7 day home delivery for $3.10/week ($12.40/month) for your first 12 weeks including all access digital. Then when it goes to full price after the 12 weeks, it’s $24.80. That’s $24.80 a month for 7 day home delivery and all access unlimited digital compared to $35 for only all access digital. Even if you don’t want home delivery, it’s stupid not to get it unless you like wasting money.

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