Farewell, App Store? Netizine Turns Magazines Into Social Networks, Runs On HTML5

As e-book publishers and Apple face an antitrust lawsuit over pricing, magazine publishers are now looking into an alternative solution to the digital pricing dilemma: being able to extricate themselves from Apple’s grip entirely. A startup called Netizine, makers of a new, tablet-ready social magazine platform for publishers is currently in talks with seven of the ten top global publishers, we’re told, including three of the top five in the U.S.

And what is Netizine offering? Only a fully functional, HTML5-based tablet application that turns digital magazines into social networks…networks that run outside the App Store, that is.

Magazine publishers’ efforts, to date, have been a mixed bag. Some are OK, while others have been pretty awful,  basically turning their content into slow and heavy apps that take up more than their fair share of the iPad’s disk space. Their early failure on this front has left room for startups likeFlipboard and Zite to innovate and build new ways to consume news in a “magazine-like” interface.

Enter Netizine.

The company, now in closed beta with an early launch scheduled for summer 2012, is an entirely new take on how magazines can operate in the new digital, tablet-focused computing age. And it’s all about social.

Netizine CEO Jonathan Harris, a self-described “print guy,” the former GM of a large publishing business (Africa’s Media24), explains that today’s “social magazine apps” are not really social.

“I’m a big consumer of Flipboard, but I do not define that as a social magazine.” he says. “The reason it’s labeled a ‘social magazine’ is because when it started, it aggregated my social feeds and turned that into a magazine experience.”

“But social is broadly limited [in Flipboard] to a page-to-many experience – i.e. share the page, tweet the page – which is pretty much a commodity these days, and a fairly standard experience across the board.”

With Netizine, however, publishers have the tools to build an entire social network within their magazine, in order to allow readers to socialize around content. It’s a more in-depth an experience that something like the community solutions designed for websites – like Disqus, Badgeville, or Livefyre, for example, which are mainly focused on commenting, user profiles, and reputation management.

Netizine builds an entire network, with a robust feature set that includes not just profiles and commenting, but also tools to share, bookmark, favorite, and rate articles, plus live chat, one-to-one instant messaging, groups (similar to LinkedIn), both the ability to friend other readers as well as the ability to follow them (one-way friendships), support for check-ins (!), integrations of the publishers’ and advertisers’ social presences from Facebook and Twitter, support for reader blogs, and more.

Publishers can pick and choose which of the tools they want included, of course, and they’re all customizable. And while for readers, the additions may just be seen as fun new ways to interact, for publishers, it’s all about building up the demographic profiles of their audience, which can then be sold to advertisers. (Sound familiar?)

One example of how this would work: magazine ads may show readers a “check-in” option (with optional sync to Foursquare) in exchange for some sort of deal, discount or coupon. Readers, wanting the deal, then do so, providing the publisher with details as to where they are located and what they were reading at the time.

The numerous social features aren’t provided solely to allow readers a new way to socialize around the magazine’s content or for better analytics, though – they also make it possible for the magazines to introduce new ways to navigate through content.

Instead of trying to reproduce the print magazine in digital format, with Netizine, the solution is to use social metrics as a way to present a magazine’s articles. For example, readers can dive into the “most commented,” section first, or the “most bookmarked,” “most shared,” or “highest rated.”

But the entry of Netizine raises the question: what of Next Issue Media, the magazine industry’s joint venture to build a “Hulu for magazines,” (involving Conde Nast, Hearst, Meredith, News Corp., and Time Inc.)? Some of those players are also looking at Netizine, it seems.

Explains Harris, “these guys are cognizant of what happened to the music industry, which is the creation of the dominant intermediary – more money being in music today, but not the music companies making it – so what they’re doing is toeing the water,” he says.  ”[Next Issue] is a really good first attempt…I think they’re experimenting. And for us, it’s the best news we could ever hear of, because it gives us channel we didn’t have a couple of weeks ago.”

The new platform, which is built with HTML5 and CSS3 for responsive design (meaning screen size doesn’t matter), can be used in two ways by publishers. For those behind on the HTML5 “trend” (sadly, that’s many), Netizine can convert their PDFs to HTML5 for them, wrap the social layer around the content, and return to them, in a couple of hours, their brand wrapped in social. Alternately, publishers can choose to take their own HTML pages and use Netizine as more of a white label service. Regardless of which option they take, however, Netizine hosts the content, giving the publisher a URL.

Netizine plans to take its cut off as a “small percentage” off the magazine’s app’s subscription price, which, not surprisingly, will be lower than Apple’s.

It remains to be seen which publishers end up launching on Netizine later this summer, of course. But Harris says he believes this is the future. “Our bet is that the social magazine space is the next big space, and the native, enriched app was a stepping stone.”

In other words, it’s a big bet that magazine publishers will pull out of the iTunes App Store, and move to the web instead, lest they risk splitting their audience into the countable, social group and the native-based, less social demographic. While publishers may be willing to take this shot, whether users will follow them – especially when there are other great apps for browsing news and features (like Flipboard!) – definitely remains to be seen.

Netizine is currently self-funded. Interested parties can sign up here.

Via TechCrunch




两年前她刚买了iPhone之后,一大乐趣就是周末翻翻App Store的应用排行榜,然后从里面找一些有趣的应用下载来玩玩。“当时也确实能找到很多不错的应用。但现在即使是排在前10的应用,很多你下载下来也会大失所望。”


造成这种现象最主要的原因就是“刷榜”:通过一些人为下载的手段,短时间内提高某款应用的下载量等指标,从而达到提升其在App Store中排名的效果。

今年3月,苹果曾专门修改过App Store的排名算法,目的就是抑制越来越盛行的刷榜行为。当时也确实取得了“立竿见影”的效果,有大批涉嫌刷榜的应用很快跌出榜单之外。





截止目前,这个账号已经点名了数十家应用,每个都配上了排名波动的曲线图。据“老孙”的测算,现在刷榜的应用已经在苹果App Store中占据了相当大的比例。“越靠前,比例越高。比如,前20名里,超过50%都是刷的,过分的时候,可能会到70%。”

事实上,这已经大大超越了苹果3月修改规则之前业内估算的刷榜比例,甚至可以用“愈演愈烈”来形容App Store里的刷榜风气。

在今年4月份,触控科技CEO陈昊芝接受本报记者采访时曾表示,保守估计之前在苹果App Store免费排行榜中有15%的应用是刷票刷出来的。他也一度希望苹果新排名规则的调整有助于防止作弊,让排行榜中呈现的是真正好的应用。但现在,陈昊芝的直观感受也是刷榜“更严重了”,“特别是周末的榜单大多数都是刷的。”


不同于Android有很多应用市场,苹果的设备(破解除外)只有一个下载软件应用的渠道,那就是App Store这个由苹果官方搭建的平台。在这个平台上,曾经培养了诸如《愤怒的小鸟》、《水果忍者》、《植物大战僵尸》等等风靡全球的应用。





长期关注苹果排名算法的“APP营”创始人康轶文告诉记者,从3月23日到3月25日,App Store中国区免费榜发生了巨大的异动,大量的应用跌出了免费榜的TOP100榜单。发生如此大波动的原因在于苹果修改了排名规则,导致刷下载量提高排名的行为失效。



不少业内人士当时也充满期待,希望以后App Store排行榜能起到它最初所起的作用,让真正好的应用得到展示的机会。

但现在,刷榜又“卷土重来”,声势更加浩大。“大概6、7月份的时候刷榜就逐步恢复了。” 康轶文说,只不过刚恢复的时候价格比以往更高一些,“现在基本回落到改规则之前的价格了。”



另外,根据“APP营”的监测,从9月份开始,苹果App Store的“卡榜”、“锁榜”时间又开始变化。这和苹果3月份改规则之前的情况非常类似。康轶文判断说,苹果可能又开始进入算法调整的测试期,如果苹果测试成熟后再次启用新算法,APP刷榜将再次失效。





在中国互联网领域,刷榜无处不在。正如当年淘宝上就有大量的卖家刷信用,大众点评网上有商家雇人刷好评,微博上有水军刷转发刷评论一样,App Store刷排行只是其中一种。

“只要有排行、有利益,就都会有刷榜。” 陈昊芝认为,关键不在市场如何,“而是苹果本身对这个问题有多重视。”陈举例说,Google对Admob广告平台的效果就足够重视,甚至是有人工团队来操作的。

康轶文也持相同观点,在他看来App Store中国区对苹果而言只是很小的部分,苹果并未真正下决心要去彻底解决问题。康轶文认为,目前对国内的应用开发者来说,刷榜依然是成本最低、见效最快的推广方式。

不过,随着刷榜的应用越来越多,体验越来越差,对此产生反感情绪的用户也会几何级地增加。最终还是会影响整个App Store的生态系统。





要说最了解全球市场的各个App Store生态系统的,可能非荷兰应用商店分析机构Distimo莫属了。Distimo经常会发布全球市场上各大平台应用商店的应用生态系统分析报告,对定位在全球市场的应用开发者来说很有价值。

今天,Distimo推出了一款新的应用数据分析服务:AppIQ。这是一款可以跟踪分析多个竞争应用在全球市场各大商店里的下载量、收入(包括应用内收入)和排名的工具。同时,Distimo 还推出了一款可以显示各大平台或应用商店应用排名和趋势的监控平台Distimo Leaderboard。



Distimo联合创始人兼CEO Vincent Hoogsteder说:“我们的目标,就是为开发者在全球范围的碎片化应用市场上提供独立、可靠的洞察力和预见性。虽然提供App监控服务的公司有很多,但监控竞争对手App的公司目前还仅此一家。”

AppIQ 能够监控的App目前还只支持iOS 和Android 商店,但覆盖范围多达40个国家。Distimo Leaderboard 则支持Amazon App Store、苹果App Store、苹果Mac App Store、黑莓App World、Google Play、诺基亚Ovi Store、三星Apps、WP7市场,几乎涵盖了Distimo 所能支持的所有应用商店。


The Daily Planet: 不只是新闻阅读器

如果你想找一个实实在在的新闻应用的话,The Daily Planet绝对是你的不二选择。你可以用它在成千上万的信息中心浏览大量各种各样的新闻。同时,简单便捷的操作系统也会助你快捷地发现想了解的新闻。

The Daily Planet 也是RSS新闻阅读器,它拥有准确可靠的界面,让你随时随地都能找到并订阅你所关心的最新当地新闻和国内新闻。当然,那些想要在The Daily Planet上看到缤纷绚丽,生动活现界面的用户恐怕要失望了。同样,在该界面你既看不到翻滚滑动的动态页面,也看不到色彩斑斓的图片。


The Daily Planet上的新闻大都来自于网页,当然也有一些音频新闻和视频新闻。如果你的手机中安装有Readability这一阅读应用的话,The Daily Planet会自动从读起来不方便的完整网站新闻模式转换成布局清晰的文本阅读模式,这样在iPhone手机屏幕上读起来会更加方便。不过在网速过慢或者相应新闻链接不能正常访问的时候,该应用还是很难完成上述跳转。所幸的是,即便如此你还可以利用iPhone手机上的双击即可放大的特点从大多数网站上看到更多新闻,待网速恢复正常后再重新完成跳转。

虽然没有其他iOS系统上新闻应用那样绚丽的界面,但The Daily Planet还有一些附加特征为其加分。当你周围没有电脑时,它能发挥普通的新闻应用发挥不了的作用。该应用支持MapTrac,你可以搜索当地的酒吧,餐馆,商店等。甚至还可以阅读由一些顶级资源中心像Yelp,Yahoo和Google Places等提供支持的点评文章。MapTrac还具备一些其他功能,比如搜索Wi-Fi热点,周围的建筑和其他由你所在的方位决定的有用资源。用新闻应用来定位酒吧和商店,这看起来或许有些奇怪,但是MapTrac确实从海量的信息中心处搜索到可靠的结果,使其比其他大多数地图应用更加强大。

说到该应用里好玩的东西,The Daily Planet似乎有点左右为难,因为好玩的东西实在太多了。好在该应用有一个加为喜好的选项,一旦你发现了某个好玩的信息选项,你可以立马将其设为喜好,这样下次登录时你就可以迅速登录到最常光顾的页面了。

  • 优点:iOS版 The Daily Planet使用的是易于操作的界面,能从成千上万的信息中心为用户带来海量的新闻。额外添加的应用也会使该应用更加有用,令你惊喜连连。
  • 缺点:等待网页跳转为可读模式?网速不给力的用户恐怕要打消这个念头,由于信息量过于庞大,该应用的下载速度有时会十分缓慢。

坦白地说,在App Store上The Daily Planet绝不是最美观的新闻应用,但是它却拥有海量的信息和易于操作、逐级划分的界面。它会让你获得不论是当地还是国内的所有新闻,同时还能向任何一个iOS设备用户提供有用的附加应用。这款应用可以在AppStore中免费下载,最近的一次更新特意针对最新的iOS6iPhone5进行了优化以及一些细节上的更新,同时还有本地新闻、股票以及体育等专项新闻阅读应用可供下载。