I Prefer Safari to Content Apps On The iPad

I've tried a few content apps on the iPad, including the much discussed Wired app. But I don't like reading content via apps on the iPad and I gravitate to the Safari browser.

There are a bunch of reasons I feel this way and I thought I'd articulate them:

1) many of the apps treat pages as monolithic objects. you can't cut and paste text, you can't engage with the content. it is just like reading a magazine or a newspaper. if i wanted to read a magazine or newspaper in physical form, i'd do that.

2) as Bijan points out this morning, there are no links to other content apps in mobile apps.

3) i can keep multiple pages open in the browser, just like i do on my laptop. it's what i've gotten used to. you can't currently multi-task apps although i suspect apple will change that soon.

4) i don't like the various different user interfaces i have to get to know. i am used to the web browser interface. i know where everything is. if there was one standard magazine app UI and one standard newspaper app UI, i might feel differently. but for now, i can't be bothered learning a new UI for every piece of content i want to consume.

5) web is free, apps are often paid. it's not really about the actual money to me. it is about the transactional overhead and the principal of it. why would i pay for something i can get for free?

6) most of the content apps don't connect to social media. i get most of my news from social media. i can click from twitter or facebook or digg to the web, but not to content apps. and many apps don't let me share content with social media.

7) you can't search content apps for what you are looking for with google. 

8) content apps are the anti-aggregator. i've come to rely on smart aggregators like techmeme, hacker news, etc to show me what i need to be reading. content apps are dedicated destinations that don't allow for aggregation. 

I understand why content companies are so interested in iPad apps. It is a familiar model to them. But as currently configured most content apps do not take advantage of the power of the digital medium. And so they are mostly useless to me.

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Comments (Archived):

  1. Dave Pinsen

    If this is a stupid question, apologies in advance: can you run an iPhone app on an iPad?

    1. fredwilson

      yes, but they are half size and if you blog them up to 2x, they don’t look very good

      1. Dave Pinsen

        OK, thanks. In the process of getting an iPhone app developed, so I was curious.

      2. Robert Davidson

        Assume that was a typo and not a marketing strategy.

        1. fredwilson

          That was the iPad auto correcting me incorrectly

          1. shockme

            Usually auto correction works very well. but it consistently fails when I try to enter my email address. ACK! Auto caps and auto completion at the end of the sentence are “teh suk”.I actually really like the Wired and Popular Science apps. I immediately “got” the interface and enjoy how they accommodate changes in screen orientation. But if I were to clock my time on the iPad most of it is in the iCab web browser because of the support for tabs and in-page search.

          2. Jay Cuthrell

            Clippy is truly alive and well.

      3. ErikSchwartz

        By area you blow them up 4x, which is worse.

  2. iPad Maniac

    But they are beautiful.But seriously, I agree, there are many problems with usability in content apps. I posted about this very topics yesterday on iPadManiac: http://www.ipadmaniac.com/i…The question is though… content apps provide a deeper experience focusing on a brand, which might just be what the average non-geeky iPad user is looking for. This would also mitigate the usability problems to a certain extend (if you use mainly one app for your news, you will get used to its interface).We will see in a couple of years…

    1. fredwilson

      I wrote a post a long time ago called convenience beats qualityWhile these apps are beautiful (quality), they are not convenient

  3. LIAD

    completely agree.Apple have forced content providers into a corner and in turn are asking us as consumers to embrace something which by most definitions is a step backwards – walled garden apps within walled garden software.Apple want us to view the iPad through its newly defined prism as a tool for content consumption – they forget that the rise of the web over the past few years and the major successes have all been about the ubiquity of content creation and content discovery. – Google buoyed by the success of Android are going to launch a tablet, outflank Apple in terms of spec and openness and make a machine which really appeals to prosumers.(the wired iPad app weighs in at over 500mb -using it is akin to installing CD rom magazines in the old days – we just dont consume content like that anymore)

    1. Rocky Agrawal

      Apple hasn’t forced content providers to do anything. They haven’t done anything special for content providers. Content providers are chasing the app market in hopes of being able to once again charge for content.If a content provider wants to offer their content on the Web (which most do), Apple enables this with one of the best mobile browsing experiences out there.What *would* be interesting is if Apple built iTunes payment integration into Safari. If you could tack a 5c or 10c charge that goes back to your iTunes account, it would provide content providers a new option.For the record, I think it would fail like most previous content micropayment schemes, but Apple’s large iTunes base would overcome a big obstacle to previous efforts.

    2. zxspectrum

      .Here we go…another Google fanboy armed with the walled garden, open/closed PR BS. Hmmm, i wonder why Google is FREE and “Open”? Maybe it’s because they “Do no evil” or put morals before their stock price.How naive;)P.S, best part is how they’re using Apple as a deflection to their real plan. Google is like the ‘V’ (TV series)..

      1. LIAD

        dude, your so wrong.you couldn’t get a bigger Apple fanboy than me.I own their products and their stock.however, their iPad and app strategy, for the prosumers at least, is a definite step backwards.whereas Google, who took a little longer to get in the game when it comes to mobile, seem to have a better overall strategy and will win in the longterm as more and more consumers become prosumers and decid they want and need a little more than Apple has decided to make available to them.Round 2 – ding ding

        1. zxspectrum

          You’re correct. Google will win! But not exactly because of the reasons you stated. I live in DENMARK and you can see how in every catalog the ratio = 5 Android Ads on 1 iPhone Ad. It’s a simple numbers game, one device Vs. the rest of the world. I’m not sure why SJ is making the same mistake that he made in the 80’s..but maybe he knows something we don’t.Anyway, that’s not the point. People see the Open/Close thing as Google the savior from the evil Apple! and that’s exactly what Google is playing on. It’s so dishonest and wrong. In the end, Apple is motivated by (obsessive)quality control while Google is motivated by controlling the world information.

          1. LIAD

            i dont buy any of that google not being evil stuff. they’re a for-profit company and act in their own best interests. the rest is spin and PR.SJ knows he’s got a great mousetrap going with iTunes and anything he can integrate with it (app purchases/micropayments etc) is going to make him a tonne of cash.Content providers like Wired are running scared. Apple have given them what appears to them to be an-out, a new potential route for saving their asses – of course they’re going to embrace it. 24,000 downloads is a great press release for wired. i doubt they will publish next months figures though. by then the novelty would have worn off and sales figures will have tumbled.PS – there is more to SJ’s obsessiveness than just quality control. – my company (as a last resort) emailed him directly about an obscure iphone API a few weeks ago and got a (short) response from him within 12 hours. the guys got billions of dollars and tens of thousands of staff – his attention to detail is second to none. never, ever bet against him. even though the content companies may loose in the longrun embracing Apple’s app economy. Apple themselves wont.

          2. paramendra

            I like your use of the world mousetrap. And I like the way you spell the word tonne. It is twice as big as I am used to seeing. 🙂 I once called Jobs the Pied Piper.

          3. LIAD

            the Queen’s English baby!

          4. JohnDoey

            > Google will win!> numbers gameApple has never played the numbers game, but even so, Apple’s 1 smartphone outsells all Android smartphones by more than 3:1, and outsells Android v2 devices by over 10:1. And in media players and tablets Android does not even merit a comparison … every day Apple outsells their whole installed base. So if that’s your metric there is a long way to go for Google.Android devices are coming fast, but also going fast. And iPads, for example, are made by 3 different companies, and more can be added. So the story is not as simple as 90 devices versus 1 device, so the 90 must sell more.

          5. gareth1090

            i thought android devices are outselling iphones:http://www.telegraph.co.uk/…the article points out that the iphone 3G is at the end of its lifecycle which is probably true considering all the leaks of new iphone models and the new iphone OS. It will be interesting to see how well the iphone 4G(?) sells and what happens to android sales during that time.i’m sure the new iphone will sell bucket loads but there is no doubt that as android matures there are a lot of iphone users who are tempted to cross over for various reasons.

        2. raycote

          I hear you but I thing you maybe underestimating Apple’s skill at adaptive strategies.

      2. andyidsinga

        Opinions and discussion about stuff != fanboy 🙂

        1. JohnDoey

          No, lack of facts and connection to reality make a fanboy.

          1. soulhakr

            yeah, except zxspectrum didn’t counter with any facts either.

    3. erja

      I don’t really see why Google needs to play into this discussion (although I look forward to them bringing some competition). As the author notes, a superior alternative is *already* available on the iPad – Safari!

      1. LIAD

        a superior option is available within the confines of the iPad. but i dont believe for 1 second that the iPad is anywhere near your dream tablet.wherever there is a need, there is space for innovation. Google is great at spotting and plugging them

        1. JohnDoey

          iPad has outsold all previous tablets already, so it’s somebody’s dream tablet.If you think iPad is confining then you’ll never understand it. Users find it liberating, not confining. It’s not a jail, it’s a 5-star hotel. It’s not closed, it’s managed. Everything is high-quality and it works. Your complaints are like saying you stayed at the Ritz and they wouldn’t let you knock down a wall and put new carpet down.Most people are thinking in very different terms than that. They’re thinking it is beautiful already and I don’t have to clean or maintain it and there’s 1-click room service. They’re feeling free to enjoy content or conversation or focus on their work.I would love to hear what needs you think Google has addressed in tablets and what innovations they’ve shipped. Tell me how great the Barnes and Noble Nook is. And the one with 2 screens that closes like a book. What innovations there?

          1. LIAD

            dude, like i said above, im an apple fanboy i own their products and their stock. i’ve stood in lines in the rain waiting to get my hands on their latest releases.that being said.buying an iPad doesn’t testify thats its your dream machine. it is revolutionary and mythical as apple claim and its head and shoulders above the limited other tablet comparables – however the classic arguments against it hold true – and you know as well as I do what they are.for average consumers – iPad hits the nail on the head. it will be a commercial success and will fuel content consumption to degrees and in settings previously unheard of.for prosumers – iPad is left wanting and could have been so much more (run a lightweight OSX and let everyone fend for themselves). – I have an iPhone, had once since the minute (literally) they become available, upgraded as soon (literally) as the latest versions became available and will probably continue to do so.Head-to-Head with Android phones like the new EVO and nexus 1 – the early adopter set have already made up their minds and are jumping ship and onto Google’s offering in droves.Whichever in the long-term becomes the biggest commercial success, I think Apple have already alienated the tech jet-set and will be hard pushed to get them back

    4. JohnDoey

      That is ridiculous in the extreme.Apple didn’t paint content creators into a corner. iPhone OS has 2 independent API’s, one of which is App Store, and the other is totally open HTML5. Wired could have done magazine.wired.com or ipad.wired.com which would install an HTML5 app to an iPad and other devices. On iPad their app would appear on the home screen same as their App Store app does, and run offline in the same way. The same complaints outlined in this article might still apply.Apple never forgot the Web — which was created on a NeXT workstation with the same tools iPhone OS developers use today — they have been at the forefront of HTML5, and it’s their open source WebKit browser that brought the Web to mobiles and which is also used in Google Android and Chrome. If you are using the Web on Android, say “thank-you Apple” because they wrote your Web browser. Everything that Google encourages you to do in a browser so they can more effectively track you and advertise to you can be done on any Apple device, in addition to the native apps Apple offers. Chrome OS is a subset of Mac OS. Android is a subset of iPhone OS.Further, apps are secondary to actual content platforms. All of Apple’s products have an HTML5 browser built-in since before it was called HTML5. You can publish on iPad as a color/audio/video standard eBook. You can make iTunes LP or Extras with ISO audio video. It’s a content creator’s dream actually. Users can buy from Apple or load any media into their iTunes library and it’s synced over.As for Google and walled gardens, note that the native C API on Android is 100% closed. Only Google gets to make native apps on Android. What 3rd parties are making are Java applets that on other platforms would run in the browser. You’re saying Apple rejecting 0.03% of native apps for iPhone OS is a walled garden, what does that make a platform that rejects 100% of native apps? Android. Totally closed to 3rd party developers. You can make apps to run in the browser with HTML5, you can make applets to run in a virtual machine with Java, but you can’t make apps to run in Android in C unless you are Google.On a tablet, you need native apps even more than on a smartphone because you want apps to be ported from Mac/PC (C apps) and console games (C apps) which have a similar screen.> success of AndroidAt what? What success? Please tell me what successes you’re referring to without saying “iPhone” or “Apple”. What has Google achieved?

      1. LIAD

        If your going to be ridiculous. You might as well be it in the extreme

        1. Maroonblazer

          That’s not really an argument.

      2. Fred Smith

        > it’s their open source WebKit browser that brought the Web to mobiles and which is also used in Google Android and Chrome. If you are using the Web on Android, say “thank-you Apple” because they wrote your Web browser.Webkit was written by the KDE developers, not by Apple. Apple picked up the Open Source KHTML framework, forked it, and turned it into the basis for Safari. Major developers that have worked on webkit since it’s release include KDE, Google, Nokia and Apple. In fact, Nokia’s use of Webkit as a mobile browser pre-dates Apple’s use of it, so you can thank Nokia for making Webkit a suitable mobile platform.

        1. gareth1090


      3. Gerry Straathof

        There is a limit to how much cache you can use for a standalone web bookmarklet. It is nowhere near large enough for the half gig of info the Wired magazine issue utilized.I’ve completed a prototype for small-format magazines that can be downloaded and read offline. The main problem is, how many of these things do you want on your device before it becomes a major pain to get through, and how do you store them on cd’s or other storage devices?

    5. Matt A. Myers

      “by most definitions is a step backwards”I’m sure they’re aware of their half-life, it still doesn’t negatively affect their business model. It just stops the initial viral growth.

    6. fredwilson

      I can’t wait for an android tabletI bet it is much more web centric

  4. Donald Jenkins

    So maybe you haven’t *completely* changed your mind about the iPad.

  5. Mark Zohar

    I generally agree. However, I think if you do some user research you’ll find that apps act as visual bookmarks for most users. They offer developers a more effective way to drive repeat usage & “free” branding on the iPad.

  6. Brian Dosal

    what about sites that use flash? wouldn’t they need to build apps so users can still interact? like mint.com (i believe they use flash)

  7. robertavila

    Too many UIs think they have to be entertaining worlds unto themselves, the cleverness of WHAT I AM rather than the usefulness of What I can do for YOU.

  8. David Semeria

    Apps provide monetization control, the open web does not.Wouldn’t it be cool if you could have it both ways: open web distribution with DRM-free monetization?

    1. ShanaC

      I’d say we’re still working out monetization on the web. It’s going to be a messy procedure, this whole web business is fairly new (compare to say newspaper business)

    2. fredwilson

      I understand your pointBut the open web does provide monetizationIt is in different ways than what most content owners are used to

  9. Peter Van Dijck

    The iPad UI already felt like going backwards to CDROMS (Those textures! That woodgrain!), and the content apps feel even more like it. The web is simpler, rougher but will still win, I’m convinced, now that the iPad has opened the way for proper tablets.

    1. Jaryd Madlena

      I was hesitant about things like the woodgrain textures, or the peeling of the map page in the Maps app, but I’ve come to feel differently. The reason those things are acceptable now is because we’re touching the map with my fingers, rather than clicking on it with a mouse. Back in the mid 90’s when software tried to be a real-world object, it failed miserably because I was clicking on it with a mouse. There was a layer between us, and it was obvious I was using a computer, not writing my contact list in an address book.But now we manipulate things in an intuitive fashion, with out fingers, so that real-world veneer is much more applicable.

      1. ShanaC

        why does the hand make a difference for you? I still think how the os/tablet feel needs to be worked out. I don’t think some visual abstraction will harm the UX at all- I think it would probably benefit people since you only touch glass…

  10. Dan Ramsden

    I think apps, especially on the iPad, are still a nascent field. Like where websites were circa 1998 or something. So may be too early to draw long term conclusions. By the way, I think the new look of this blog shows really well on the iPad in Safari. It almost looks like a well designed app.

    1. fredwilson


  11. Dave Hyndman

    Generally agree. The one exception is Instapaper. Great app. Impressed with social media integration (Twitter and Tumblr). My fave app and generally my fave iPad experience.

    1. fredwilson

      Instapaper is the aggregator for the iPad

  12. slowblogger

    I see what you are saying, and I share some of your views. But let me take a devil’s role here.1) That seems to apply to some apps, but not all. And some people seem happy with just monolithic objects. You could like or dislike their behavior, but I know they exist.2) True. But I am guessing it will change if many people ask for it.3) No question.4) If you mean ‘clicking hyper links’ in a wep interface, I agree with you. But if you are talking about overall interface, there are different web interfaces as well. Maybe web UIs are a bit more homogeneous, but it had longer history through which ‘standard’ interface designs emerged. I am sure same things are happening and will happen to apps.5) True. But isn’t it from a historic reason? It does not have to be that way forever.6) Similar to 2. But I agree this might be a genuine weakness of apps.7) True, but a part of it is for historic reasons. Like it or not, News Corporation is showing the world that anti-aggregation is possible even in the web. I am sure aggregators for apps will emerge, even for contents.Anyway, web vs. app is an interesting and important topic. I have a relativistic view. For some things, web does better, for the others app will. Sounds too general, but it keeps me practical (not dogmatic) and thinking which those some are.By the way, do the AVC meetups mean ‘possible’ or ‘definite’? You have Korea as a destination.

  13. William Mougayar

    As Maniac alluded to, the Apps appeal to a less geeky (or needy) audience that is happy consuming the content within that walled/predictable environment. There are some Apps that have gone out of their way to include Web linkages or provide richer experiences. The Guardian UK comes to mind.The best balance is probably in sticking to a Mobile app that detects the mobile client, therefore giving you an optimized device UI combined with the full Web on-ramps & off-ramps.

  14. Carsten

    I pretty much agree with each of the points but come to the exact opposite conclusion and would say that those are the reasons i prefer apps over web content. Web content such as this page for example is too cluttered. In most cases that does not matter since little so called new media content requires a lot of concentration to digest but being able to focus on a long story in the FT or in the excellent German business magazine Brand Eins is like listening to music in a quiet room … Full concentration no noise… If I want to share afterward there is always email.

  15. graubart

    Great post, Fred.The key reason (IMO) is that most content apps are driven by the needs of the publisher, not the user experience. Let’s build an app that has some really cool widgets for our advertisers (e.g. Wired) but really doesn’t enhance the user experience. Let’s build an app that showcases some of our content well, but doesn’t include all the content (NYT). Often, there’s no apparent reason for a standalone app other than a publisher hoping to gain “padtop” space and the mindshare that comes with seeing their logo each day.Some of the apps seem to be a bit better on the iPad than though the browser (Epicurious) but they are few. There’s also some interesting developments in the scientific/technical market, such as what Nature and Elsevier are doing).As the iPad and Android-based tablets mature (let’s keep in mind that we’re in the top of the first inning here), I think some creative content providers will innovate and we’ll see some stronger examples, but for now, the browser is the better experience in most cases.

    1. paramendra

      The browser has to stay on as the better experience. We just have to get a better browser.

    2. fredwilson

      You are very right about the first inningBut I’d like our pitchers to throw strikes.

  16. ErikSchwartz

    I wrote about this for a friends blog when the iPad was announced.http://www.lostremote.com/2…”For the past few weeks, as the hype built, there has been increasing chatter that this device could be the savior of magazines and newspapers. New subscription-based business models would be born. Users would pay a monthly fee to access their favorite publications on the iPad. Now that I’ve seen it, I think the iPad will make things worse, not better, for newspapers and magazines. Why? Because the iPad’s web browser is really good.”

  17. Chip

    Dave,Have you tried ReadMeLater.com it is Instapaper without the need to buy or install a app.

    1. andyidsinga

      I love instapaper, == fanboy 🙂 (callback to a comment I made way above) .I haven’t bought the iphone app because I use the email feature to email URLs to my instapaper.It works brilliantly from both safari and tweetdeck ..and I’m sure any other app that supports using the iphone’s integration with email to “mail a link”.

    2. Dave Hyndman

      I’ve tried ReadMeLater. But I prefer Instapaper. The app, for me, *is* the reason I use it. Far superior experience … for me.

  18. Elie Seidman

    Completely agree and have had the same experience. Bigger screen makes the sometimes UI benefits of the apps on a smaller screen largely irrelevant on the iPad and even counterproductive for reasons you mentioned. Also, multitasking limitations go away when you have multiple browser windows available This is a good thing. Apps are a regression back to the days where developers had to choose a platform to develop for. Developing for each platform (Android, Blackberry, Apple) and marketing in each of those platforms is not free. I know that for Oyster, I’d far prefer it if people just used Oyster.com via a browser; after all, we already wrote that.

  19. Portman Wills

    I think the same holds for ALL apps, not just content apps. If there is a web version, I would rather use the web.Web apps have URLs. I can share, deep link, bookmark, etc. So far, on the iPad, every app that is a “port” of a website makes me give up some of that awesome power.(There is one exception: the Kayak app, which is actually more powerful than its web-based cousin.)

    1. fredwilson

      URLs are so important and fundamental

      1. vruz

        Links are the H in hypertext, after all.Steve’s version of the web is ‘divide and conquer’. (so that he can sell bits of it)It’s good for the short term, but for them securing a viable long-term strategy implies a microsoftian future where most of us don’t want to go today.We would be crazy to embrace another corporate prince shortly after the demise of the previous one.

      2. vruz

        now I think of it.isn’t it a great irony that Sir Tim created the Hypertext Transfer Protocol, and the Hypertext Markup Language on a NeXT machine?Steve must really hate the dirty, unruly web.Welcome to AOL 2.0

      3. Nuno Maia

        Apple is creating a Splinternet it can control and profit from.Segregating the open web into individual paid apps.If you cant grasp this basic FACT, any further debate is worthless

  20. gregorylent

    and no adblock on content apps

  21. ankushnarula

    I agree with most of these points. The lack of social media connections is the biggest sore point. Sharing knowledge is the key reason I spend more time reading online than offline. UI consistency is also a big one.On a related note, I tried the Wired app after reading the hype and was very disappointed by the navigation. I like that you can take the entire magazine offline. However I find it very frustrating that the page turns are in all directions without indicating which direction to continue reading an article. Also, the “links” and interactive features were not obvious to me. Not a compelling experience for a 20+ year IT veteran.

  22. Ernie Smith

    I think that some of the problems with the iPad apps will be lessened with time. But I agree with you on your main point, Fred.The big problem is that the apps all have very different, non-standardized interfaces. And the ones that work the best don’t work like Hypercard, with single-screen flip-card scrolling. The USA Today app, at least partly, takes advantage of the scrolling nature of the Web in its interface. The Reuters app works just like the Web site, better in fact, because it doesn’t pretend to be a newspaper app.I do think the multitasking problem will be less of an issue over time. When the iPad supports hot-swapping between the Reuters app and the WordPress app, for example, it’ll make my life a heck of a lot easier as a blogger.Right now, I’ve found myself using the iPad to read content and my laptop to post it. Some of it is technical – Mobile Safari doesn’t support the ContentEditable function of HTML5, making it useless for blogging – some of it is that I actually like the idea of having a device that focuses on one thing. So, when I’m blogging, I actually find myself using my MBP and my iPad in unison – the iPad for reading lists on Twitterific, the MBP for typing out posts. And the iPad is very useful as a reading device on the D.C. Metro, where AT&T 3G still isn’t at most of the stations.I do agree with you that it works better for the Web than for most of these apps, but eventually I do see these apps breaking out of their limitations.Oh, and on a side note: The inability to share articles in the Wired app is downright shameful. That’s the biggest advantage it has over a paper publication and it’s not even there.

    1. JohnDoey

      Yeah, MacBook Pro plus iPad is very powerful. iPad is like a reference book and a digital printer in that case.

  23. Aviah Laor

    Only a few years ago the common knowledge was that desktop applications are out, that the rich user experience is less important than the the advantages of a simple web app, and that the future is web apps (http://www.joelonsoftware.c….Now a new “desktop” emerges, and suddenly the non-web applications are back big time.Not only that, Apple cuts from the developer revenues which MSFT never did.I have no explanation – but it’s a strong trend, and it’s surprising, since the web apps are much richer and better.Maybe a necessary step for a new platform? The superior user experience of Apple apps? The convenience to start an app with the iPhone icons instead of a browser bookmark/url? Simpler to use without logins? People are more convenient to pay for an app – it’s theirs, for good, unlike a more vague cloud service?We should nail the reasons.

    1. Jaryd Madlena

      Web apps are not ‘richer’ than desktop apps. Some web apps are amazing, and did you notice how when they are so good, they are called ‘desktop-level software?’ That’s because desktop software is usually on a whole other level than web apps. We are definitely seeing an expansion in the capabilities of web apps, and I don’t doubt that they will equal or surpass desktop software someday, but for now, there are things you can’t do with HTML and Javascript.

      1. Aviah Laor

        I agree. But this is true also to Windows apps, and still we saw migration from win apps to web apps. Maybe the diff between apps and web apps on the iPhone/iPad is more significant? don’t know.

      2. ShanaC

        correct. It’s a matter of time though.Furthermore, what is really interesting about web apps are they change the dynamic on which work is played out.Take word Vs google docs – one doesn’t really write a formal resume with nitpickyniess about the size and type of font and spacing issues with google docs- However it is a much better tool if you need to collaborate. Lightyears better. So much better that it changes the paradigm about how to write so that you don’t even think about “Well, how do I make this document look good”And that is the major shift I see. Eventually everyone will be able to make their web things look picture perfect, for sure- however before that time the strength of a web application is that many people can do many things to it at once (which is how people want to work)

    2. JohnDoey

      Apple created a market for 3rd party apps and they take a cut for doing all the store work, from auditing to hosting to micro-payments. Microsoft never created a market, they create monopolies. They stole wholesale from 3rd party developers and attempted to kill them off one by one. Microsoft also intentionally crippled Web apps on their platform for anti-competitive reasons.On Apple platforms, native C apps compete with the best HTML5 Web apps. You can’t do Final Cut Pro for Mac OS on the Web. You can’t do FourTrack for iPhone OS on the Web. That is true of all the best Mac and iPhone apps. You can’t do Facebook without the Web, though. You can’t do Google Search without the Web. That’s true of all the best Web apps. Having both is like a yin yang, you get a complete set of apps.The people who have been telling you native C apps are obsolete don’t have native C apps. The C API’s on Google’s platforms are closed to drive you onto the Web to be tracked and advertised to. But the cost of that is they don’t have a whole range of apps from content creation to 3D games that the Web doesn’t yet support.Also, there is social issues. Stuff you store “in the cloud” is held by a 3rd party and is easy to subpoena compared to 1st party stuff you have only in your own possession. Journalists don’t want their notes on a remote server for that reason. Writers don’t want their unreleased work on a remote server. Putting the Internet between your typewriter and your paper is a bug in many cases. Even if the Web can run a full office suite as it will soon, many will not want to use it. Google doesn’t understand this for the same reason they were surprised at the response to Buzz: nerd myopia.

  24. David Brazeal

    I agree, and I would go an additional step. Not only do current apps “not take advantage of the power of the digital medium,” but even if they did, they could do most of the same stuff via Safari. So even the best app ever is really just about implementing an extra layer of control that doesn’t add anything to the user experience.

  25. Rocky Agrawal

    I would add a couple more:* The apps are out of date. Whereas most Web sites (such as Wired’s) are regularly updated, the content apps are not. It’s published once a month, just like the magazine. * They make no use of analytics. Most content Web sites will make some effort to surface the most interesting content as voted (either explicitly or implicitly) by readers. With apps, you’re stuck with what publishers think is important.* No user comments. While quality of comments vary dramatically, for me it’s an expected part of reading online.These apps combine the worst aspects of print and online: – harder to read (like online) – incremental fees (like print) – out of date (like print) – little interactivity (like print)From a business model perspective, even though ABC has accepted that app sales will count toward print subscriptions for purposes of setting ad rates, I seriously doubt that advertisers will in the long run. (Or even the medium run.) It’s an interactive medium and can be measured, so advertisers will expect that it will be measured. Besides, at current pricing, the lift in subscribers isn’t significant. (About 3% for the first app issue of Wired.)

  26. shockme

    I prefer content apps because they allow me to focus on the content. Many of these apps do in fact lead out to the web via links. Additionally, other task oriented apps are better organized and easier to use than their web-based counterparts.I can imagine the utility of improvements that incorporate the more social aspects, but the lack of such features simply isn’t a deal breaker for me.Additionally, I’ve aggregator apps that incorporate a browser window to be a very effective replace to a bland scrolling list of links or a busy website with flashing ads.As much of the content is copyrighted, it seems reasonable that it is not cut and paste.I think the most important you have made is that now that all the genie of free content has been out of the bottle for so long, I just don’t see how they will attract readers back to a pay model other than by offering the value pay content often has: superior editing and focus.

  27. Mike Weber (@mweb)

    Largely agree. I think we’re witnessing very early first generation apps here which is enhancing access to content typically found in physical form and a small sprinkling of interactivity such as video. I’d hope that with feedback, such as this, the apps will improve greatly and break down some barriers and/or we’ll see some dope implementations of HTML5.

  28. Antonio rodriguez

    Agree with all of your points except that for 300+ wordpieces, readability is much better roundtripping the content through Instapaper.

  29. Norbert Mayer-Wittmann

    Sounds to me like you’re saying you don’t like walled gardens — not because of the price of entry, but rather because the hurdles are a PITA that are not sufficiently rewarded once you see what’s inside.I would probably agree (if I were even slightly interested in such schemes — which I’m not ;)I probably also agree with you about “social media” — except I don’t understand what “social media” means. If it means keyword domain names (those that follow the Wisdom of the Langauge), then yes: definitely!

  30. Jan Schultink

    I can see the value of a content app on a small screen (buttons you can press easily). On a bigger screen less.

  31. Edwin

    One of the big reasons that Jobs banned plugins from mobile Safari is to make the web suck – if he could ban hyper-links he would. The only way ultimately to have his very own app world prevail is by making the web suck more and he’s failing miserably thus far thankfully.

    1. JohnDoey

      You have it exactly backwards in every way. Plug-ins died on their own because they make the Web suck.The key feature of the Web is to be universal, but plug-ins are not platform-independent, so they make content PC-only and prevent users from seeing it and prevent non-PC Web clients from being practical. Jobs didn’t have to ban plug-ins from MobileSafari, there weren’t any … MobileSafari runs on ARM, plug-ins are all Intel-only. Plug-ins are also impractical for consumers who don’t know how to install software yet go to a Web page and are greeted with “get a Flash update,” and for businesses who don’t want their users installing software, and for mobiles which do not get software updates regularly (everything but iPhone OS). Plug-ins are a malware vector and security risk. A big reason the smartbook failed was PC makers wouldn’t make them since they can’t run Flash. So PC users got netbooks that are 2x the size and weight and half the battery life and cost more instead, all to run a browser plug-in. There are also no 64-bit browser plug-ins and PC’s all have 64-bit CPU’s now. Plug-ins are just totally impractical.Further, while it’s true you need plug-ins on the IE6 Web to show a wide variety of content, you don’t today. Modern browsers have “HTML FlashPlayers” built-in now. If you go to MSNBC.com on a PC you will see a page made for IE that has a huge Flash presentation in it that enable you to watch and choose video. If you go to MSNBC.com on an iPad you will see a page made for modern browsers that has the same presentation in it, but done only in HTML. The modern version is safer and faster and uses less battery and crashes less than the old plug-in dependent one.What you have to understand is that most of Jobs’ influence comes from being right. He’s not telling you to make a modern Web page because he pulled that out of his ass one day. His company has been making WebKit for 8 years, which is the engine in most Web browsers, including Safari and Chrome and iPhone and Android. Jobs has a lot of smart people telling him what works in a browser and where things are going.

  32. Kevin

    Totally agree Fred. For content that is available through a browser, then in most cases, this is a far better option on the iPad than a dedicated iPad app (or iPhone app – e.g. Facebook)There is still a huge market for iPad apps though, Star Walk for example could not be done in a browser, and many many more.

  33. Roy Nallapeta

    @Fred: I think you must read this excellent and insightful article about apple’s probable/sinister 😉 intention on dumbing down web to enable and allow for a native app eco-system. This will pretty much speak to your point and is absolutely a gem of an article http://bit.ly/b1D7It

    1. paramendra

      For a moment I thought you had linked to this article that I read a few days ago: http://www.nytimes.com/2010

  34. cyanbane

    Totally agree, especially with gmail.. I like the gmail web app much better than the integrated ipad mail app. However I did create an account specifically for my ipad just for ease of use when mailing stuff to Evernote, back to my main account etc.I don’t like Google Reader within the ipad though and use NewsRack for feed reading. It has built in ports to evernote/instapaper and has a pretty clean interface (and syncs with gReader).

  35. Chrismonerat

    “the principle of it” – you wrote principal.I completely agree, content apps add an unnecessary layer of complexity to reading on an iPad.

  36. paramendra

    The thing to do is to take the browser to the next level through HTML 5, not to go back to the pre-web desktop environment, or even to the pre-web, pre-PC CD-ROM environment as these apps tend to do. This is going backwards in time. Links are what the web is all about. And these magazines/newspapers need to learn about making money through free from Mark Pincus.

  37. Loic Le Meur

    Agree, I like LeMonde though, makes me feel like having the real paper, but I end up not buying it and going to the web version…

    1. Steve Bell

      Same experience here. I think Fred’s nailed it on this one… the iPad has a nice Safari browser and why bother to learn custom apps for each feed? Despite the fake wood paneling… 🙂

  38. Loic Le Meur

    Nice iPad template btw 🙂

  39. stevenwillmott

    Its definitely true that web browsing trumps content apps *right now* – however I think it’s mainly the fault of the apps themselves – not allowing links out, unfamiliar navigation etc. – but I think this will change and we’ll see a move to the middle ground between apps and “browsing” – for example if you own a mac try http://fluidapp.com/ (turns any “web app” into a “mac application”) – don’t think there is an iPad version yet though – this gap will close.I also with content apps it’s a mistaken business model to sell the “app” itself – the app is the client, nothing more – if you’re a content producer you want the client to be *free* and if you’re going to charge, charge instead for the content itself (by month, by pay-to-view/play or whatever) and pull in that content via an API. As a company (3scale) we’re helping several companies do this right now.This way you’ll also get competition for the best “interface” to particular forms of content that are independent of the content providers monetization strategy. I think there’ll be a kind of “reinvention” of the browser which moves away from full page web browsing as we know it now but keeps the underlying goodness of linked / reference-able content.

    1. ShanaC

      That’s more complicated than it looks. The most expensive apps by far for the IPAD are wrapped books for the finance industry and for the medical industry (upwards of $200) They’re one time buys (you are not buying multiple exam prep guides, drug cross references…) It’s hard to claim they are a client based on what they are wrapping.Those sorts of apps, the business model of wrapping content and selling it works just fine. For consumer driven products-you are back to the same problem as the web, albeit with more control over the interactivity….the only thing I can think of is you are paying for easter eggs?

      1. stevenwillmott

        Yes – agree with you on that: not all content is alike – there’s a continuum from real time data (stock feeds for example – if you can call that content) right through to heavy duty reference content. The rule is probably, the more often you update the less good it is to try to sell the app v’s the access.I think the brand presence that can be wired into an app and exactly that little bit more control over the experience will generate some opportunities where people are willing to pay for news and other content on a subscription basis – it will be tricky for content companies to navigate and they’ll have to do an excellent job (free alternatives are never far away) but an app is more likely to give them a shot at it than a web browser based experience.

  40. Morgan Linton

    I completely agree and think that most savvy Internet users would agree. If you’re used to being able to do everything you can with a browser there is no way an app could offer the features you’re looking for…yet.My question is will the Internet itself evolve and move-away from webpages? Since the inception of the web content has been organized into webpages/sites – sure this has made sense to get things started but I’m not sure this will prevail as the best way to organize data on a content network like the Internet.Google certainly leads the pack in innovations but you never know when a company like Twitter will come-out of no-where and change the way we communicate and share information online. The web’s an evolving place and the iPad is definitely opening the door to a new generation of Internet users that are more familiar with app-based browsing/accessing content.

    1. ShanaC

      I would say- sort of. There are things out there that harness the web that aren’t the web. Evernote. It’s a neither/nor category. And I wonder if that is the direction we are going with applications.

  41. vruz

    You might also find interesting:”Will Apple Embrace The Web? No.”http://www.osnews.com/story…

  42. Adrian Scott

    excellent points, all.

  43. AndreaF

    Fred, thanks for this. I was losing faith in you as, lately, most of your posts were promotional to your own companies or somewhat uninteresting (my totally personal opinion of course).But with this short analysis you have articulated very clearly why web is better than apps and I could not agree more with it.I hope this gets spread around.

  44. Saad El Boury

    Good post Fred! The lack of social networking and sharing in apps is astounding, how can anyone succeed in this era without strong emphasis on these major components – the killer app for content providers is undoubtfully the browser.

  45. robotarmymade

    “But as currently configured most content apps do not take advantage of the power of the digital medium. And so they are mostly useless to me .”+1

  46. McBeese

    Fred, regarding point number 3, you can only keep one web page ‘open’ at a time. The other pages are not open, otherwise one of them could be Pandora and you could listen to background music. The ‘open’ web pages you refer to are nothing more than cleverly designed bookmarks that will take you back to that URL and refresh the page for you. It’s a useful and clever design, but it isn’t any form of multi-tasking.

  47. ShanaC

    5 is a big issue- content isn’t free, the cost isn’t just immediately made aware by you. Someone has to produce it, there is labor there, and professionally produced content isn’t cheap. (it’s getting cheaper, but it will never be cheap…)4- That’s an issue that will work itself out. I think it is also in part an issue coming with the newness of the device. Not only do you the user not know what the UX should be, I don’t think the developer does either. We’re all just playing along until we figure it. That will happen, and Apps will become richer once it does. (Those issues will play back into the web, like most UX patterns do)I also don’t think these content apps are for searching and sharing, they are for savoring- like morning newspapers with newspapers on paper with coffee and eggs, or on the subway which you would then discuss later. people are trying to recreate parts of life that have gone missing, and are not quite sure how…If these apps become popular, it is in part because people have nostalgia for content as item rather than content as content. Content as item has a very different shareability profile, and I think that is why you are feeling uncomfortable with the setup at hand…

  48. Naim Andy Hilal

    I agree. With some notable exceptions, most content producers don’t need to deliver their sites in an app. That is not to say that all content apps are “useless,” but they need a reason to exist. If your content app uses location services or other aspects of the hardware, then great. Use an app.One usage I do like is the way the Huffington Post app presents picture slideshows. When you read an article that has a multi-image gallery attached, clicking the slideshow takes over the screen, and you can swipe through the photos just as you would with your own photo album. It’s a great way to view the photos, and not something you can do quite as nicely in Safari.So while I agree in general, going the extra mile to integrate with the device’s hardware or OS features in a meaningful way can make a difference.

  49. Saravanan Sahadevan

    Safari ——> ChromeiPhone ——-> AndroidFacebook/Twitter ——–> BuzziAds ————–> Google Ads for AndroidApple TV ———> Google TVI believe that Google has lost its sense of direction. Nothing seems to be new. Its either they want to be Apple (hardware company). Or they want to we a web company. Or a search company. Nothing is clear. I believe Google should concentrate working on Google Apps instead. The only thing I ever felt was new and innovative was Search, Gmail & Apps. The rest, mere imitation of “We could also do that!”

    1. Jason Barone

      I don’t agree that Google has lost its sense of direction. Almost everything they do ties back into something else they were already doing. They’ve mastered the search and advertising game in my opinion. If Google would of just stayed in search and advertising, they would of faced a similar fate to Yahoo. Google’s growing and being reactionary in the process. People can call Google evil all they want, but they’ve done more for the web and small businesses then any other company I can think of. They’ve also created multiple platforms and tools that have made it possible for businesses all over the world to grow and leverage the web for free or very little money.Look at Google’s offerings and think of how many businesses were likely built or grown from using those tools. Don’t forget to check out Google code and look at their APIs. How many APIs do you think are being used to build other business’ core offerings. Apple still uses Google services in its own product offerings.

  50. Fernando Gutierrez

    Apple needs consumers buying apps to create and entry barrier. Switching tablets when you only use the browser and the cloud will be easy, so they need that you spend a lot of money on apps to avoid the temptation. With the iPhone this strategy worked fine and Android is still having a difficult time, but I’m not so sure about the iPad.

  51. RichardF

    I think its early days yet Fred. There’s been a rush to deliver content on the iPad and apps were seen as the way it to do it because of their success on the iPhone. Apps are hugely successful on the iPhone because they give quick access and a nice experience on a small screen.Of course it benefits Apple if the app model on the iPad can be replicated and I don’t blame them for trying. Also a reasonable strategy in many ways to take given they have an army of iPhone fans already trained up to use and love the new device.On something the size of an iPad a web browser is going to win out for all the reasons that you have given above. Even more so when HTML5 hits the mainstream.Which means there needs to be a “web app store” for want of a better word to give companies/developers the ability to monetise. Personally I have no objection to paying for something that I value and the Apple app store does that in a way that is pretty frictionless.Amazon would be a good company to run a payments system for web “content” in my opinion because they are generally trusted.

  52. haraldf

    Ad 8) Exactly!I experienced aggregation as progress during the last years – aiming at my personalized “newspaper”. Now I am supposed to de-aggregate everything again by downloading and maintaining a multitude of apps? Not the future in my opinion …

  53. Evangelos Papathanassiou

    “Search and social” is vital to finding content that you would not have searched for by yourself. It’s “accidental relevance”, coming by links from friends, posts in my Facebook newsfeed, search results or smart comments to a news article. All this is crippled in apps. It has nothing to do with being a “Google Fanboy” (which i am not). I am an “Internet Fanboy”, and Internet clearly is NOT about delivering the same stuff you would deliver on paper to a screen.Check from April 9:http://epapa100.blogspot.co

  54. OurielOhayon

    hi FredI mostly agree but have published here more on why the browser is still better than apps for news http://ouriel.typepad.com/m

  55. Mike

    I think it boils down to this: putting an interface on the content. Like as not, the web, aka “cloud” nowadays, is where the content lives for the most part, which does lend itself to the social networking and sharing aspects the some have mentioned. That is not going away anytime soon.The question is which interface is best or most useful for accessing that cloud? Is it the browser or is it the native UI of the device being utilized to access the content? This is the horse race we are seeing at this time vis-à-vis iPad/iPhone OS (for example) versus HTML5/webkit. To the extent that the browser can provide all the necessary methods of navigation and presentation, it might be best. But as several have pointed out, it is not presently ideal for monetization.My take on the matter is that there needs to be a blend of both features in order to encapsulate and deliver the content in a shareable or linkable way (one in which content is easily updatable, while providing a secure and seamless way to charge for some or all of the content being streamed to the device.One thing that ain’t gonna fly, in my opinion, is the need to download a 500 megabyte package each time a new issue of a magazine is published. At least not until mobile broadband is ubiquitous, really fast, reliable and dirt cheap.

  56. Mark Essel

    Same here Fred. The ipad is a glorious browser, and that’s what I enjoy most about it.Caveat Apps I enjoy:Dropbox is the killer app, invest in Drew Houston if you can. They’re working on iterating the best financial model and conversion (Freemium). But I relay on them for code, document, and media availability everywhere. Dropbox equals the cloud for me.Kindle reader (because I have some books in that format and enjoy reading on the device).I hear Kayak is incredible, although I’m travelling now but haven’t used it yet.Netflix is fantasticI’ve used LogMeIn and iTeleport for wifi terminal access to my living room macmini and developer ubuntu desktop, but now I prefer using those devices directly. The big advantage, I can access them from anywhere (I could develop using my Bluetooth keyboard using remote log in)crud breakfast, be well avc’ers

    1. Tereza

      LOVE dropbox!!!

    2. SF

      I use all of the apps you mention on iPad. They are great, but notice how kayak relies on throwing you back out onto the web for complete the transaction (cannot figure out whether it is a strength or weakness).I would add GoodReader as a great model of how to integrate with other services via a (web-based) API. GoodReader + DropBox + Google Docs works for me :)It bothers me that the same 2 or 3 apps get mentioned all the time – does that mean there really are not that many truly useful apps for iPad?

      1. Mark Essel

        Kayak going to the web is likely to avoid the 30% Apple tax on transactions. Yeah it looks like there are only a handful of good apps.

        1. SF

          You are right. This must be a consideration for them and other app vendors, especially if apple takes 30% off the top, and kayak only gets a referral fee for the booking.Sf

  57. Tereza

    Seems to me these inconveniences are a tax some of as are willing to pay with the iPhone because of the fits-in-your-pocket factor.Not so for the iPad, eh?Incidentally I went into the Apple Store last week to test my new webapp on the iPad — to see where to prioritize developing an iPad app.My takeaway: the web experience was outta this world (OMG — WOW!!). So I think spending on development for the iPad app is very low priority…unless we learn something new and different in the interim.The one issue I have: No camera on iPad. And that’s an issue for the time being, app or not.

  58. spullara

    I deleted all the content apps days after I got the iPad. Reading in Safari is much better experience.

  59. Roger Toennis

    NPR App is pretty good for iPad.

  60. Ckaralus

    Nice article. I hadn’t considered those points. Great points.However I find that the UIs in some of these apps already blow away what’s on the web. NYT Editor’s choice has a fantastic UI for example. So does that ABC app. And I find all the content is formatted for the ipad unlike every webpage. And I find the level of responsiveness is a few notches higher than your average webpage.The Jobs’ vision is to combine the richness and responsiveness of local apps with the connectedness and timeliness of the cloud.It seems we’ll then get apps with the social media and news links of the web. And, at the same time, the web continues to evolve towards richer UI and more responsive performance.

  61. techcle

    I strongly disagree with the theme in some of these replies, suggesting that the wider market is ready for mobile browser based applications.The reason the iPhone (and more recently android) have resonated so wellwith “jo public” consumers is because the native app model hasrestored confidence in the mobile Internet after many false starts- think WAP, every version of Microsoft Mobile prior to 6, even current blackberrys). Ialways use my mother as a benchmark when thinking about this – sheuses apps on an iPhone and is comfortable looking for apps, but tellher to open safari & use the Internet & she doesn’t get it, shedoesn’t understand that the Internet on her computer can be used (in atiny form) on her phone.I would expect in 12-18 months consumers will be transitioned awayfrom apps, as has happened on the desktop, we’re just not there yet.PS, I actually wrote this comment on my iPad, but seems there’s a problem with mobile safari that stopped it submitting!! I’ve had to copy & paste, email it & then submit it from my PC!!

  62. Ben Israel

    As consumer. I find the experience of using apps to be so much better and simpler. Take the nytimes app for example. I access it directly with one click, instead of multiple clicks on the browser; and the navigation is simplified. Sure it doesn’t work for everything, but apps simplifies my web experience and reduces the amount of data i have to sieve through before getting to a destination or result.A few of the points you’ve mentioned are features, e.g. connection to social media, which is easily fixed.On UI, I think apps makes the experience more standard, especially with scrolls and swipes. Website on the other hand are ALL different, with web designed always trying to impress.Agree that there are bad apps and there are good apps, and yes, don’t understand why I can’t just get an app that gives me content that is already free like on Wired and Time. But there are really good ones out there, and it will get better.But apps are not just for content consumption. They are a better tool than the browser for making decision, tearing away the layers of unnecessary data and giving me what I actually need – eventually, they will be making the decisions for me.Last point, apps are easier to implement on the ubiquitous web than a browser.

  63. Tippman1

    What smart aggregators besides techmeme and hacker news do you like?

  64. Jason Huggins

    “if there was one standard magazine app UI and one standard newspaper app UI”…I suspect in the future “content apps” will converge to a standard UI and into a hybrid app that is one part iBook app and one part HTML5 Mobile Browser for greater integration of audio and video content. Maybe call it “iMag”? I agree that the big allure of web apps is the uniform high-level navigation UI. I only have two content apps on my iPad, the NPR and NYT apps. They’re pretty and innovative in their UI design, but sometimes, too much UI innovation is just too much. By comparison I love the consistency of iBooks navigation, but until producers can publish standard iBooks (or iMags?) that include audio, video, and animation graphics, expect more content apps like Wired.

  65. Tom Limongello


  66. Tom Limongello

    Agree that Safari on iPad is both overlooked and underappreciated. For advertising in articular the way forward on mobile/touch screen devices is to leverage HTML5 as much as possible and in particular to use webview to make sure that the web can coexist within app architectures. Since publishers are still leading with apps we have developed ways of incorporating links, social search and sharing and real time content into app advertising using webview and of course those experiences work just as well in the iPad safari browser.For now, Mobile Safari lacks some of the native app functionality like shake and sounds, but it seems like from the Google I/O keynote that by the end of the year those limitations will disappear for webkit browsers, so hopefully that means Apple will continue to push development on Safari to incorporate those improvements.In terms of User Experience, apps differ in gestures from Safari in that Safari is about scrolling and zooming while in-app the basic gesture is horizontal scrolling. Here’s a deeper dive of the Wired App ads if you are interested: http://bit.ly/d2An4l

  67. kenberger

    And I find all this just as true for Android phones.PS: s/principal/principle/ in #5

  68. daniel

    full ack.content industry tends to build wallet gardens instead of updating business models though.

  69. SF

    So everyone is in general agreement (on this thread). That’s pretty unusual :)Like many others I was suckered into the Wired app over the weekend. I was very disappointed with how “paper-like” the app was. A couple of videos, a couple of animations, many commercials (which was fine). Where is the “deep thought”? I think commentators who compares these apps to CD-ROMs are entirely correct. I think Fred made the key point with the URL comment – if an item is not addressable, it cannot be acted on (stored/references/shared/noted), and so is useless to the “read-write” web. Which may be just fine for traditional content creators. But if that’s what they think – they are just buying themselves a little time, not a new lease on life.However, what if a software toolkit company provided code for integrating the things we like on the web into mobile apps? The strongest of the apps use Web as a service, data, and analysis layer, and the device as an optimized UX platform. A simple “make a note”, “get a link”, “share” code block could easily tip the balance towards the apps for majority of users. There are such options for mobile ads – why would not there be for “interactive components” ?as a personal rant, I am incredibly by my inability to make notes in NYTimes, or Kindle or iBooks apps on iPad/iPhone. These restrictions do nothing to make me want to use the apps, and in fact get to the point that while I prefer the UI in the app, I cannot bring myself to use it since I will just have to redo this on the web/kindle device at some point in order to make a note or highlight a passage.

  70. marksu

    there are some things going wrong on the ipad, but thats not the matter of html5 and browser or apps – it the approach of the media to this new device. they think, that bringing the content to the ipad is enough. but the ipad is an entire new device – neither print-magazin, nor webseite.we need a new kind typography and esthestics für this device!when you look at the websites back in the nineties, they were total crap in compare to new ones. so the ipad and all other tablet devices will take there time to create their own style.it realy is a missunderstanding that in the digital world every is for free. good journalists want to get paid. musicians want to get paid. filmmaker want to get paid. so there has to be new concepts for paid content!this first apps are just bad examples, but the system evolve and one day, maybe you have twitter, but if you want serious content, you will have to pay for it!so give this apps their time … look at the webtypography back in 1997

  71. GeekCyclist

    Excellent analysis. The transactional cost is key to me. My primary example is the Blackberry apps for Twitter and Facebook. The Twitter app acts like a browser, and ‘spacebar’ triggers a page down like action to show you the next tweet. Facebook doesn’t behave this way, and I always end up adding 2-3 spaces to the status update field before I remember what app I am dealing with.

  72. Jon Colverson

    Your point 8 about content apps being the anti-aggregator hits the nail on the head for me: I read one or two Wired articles per month, one of two articles from the The Times, and one or two articles from dozens of other publications as they suit my interests. So unfortunately now that The Times (of London) has gone behind a paywall, there’s no way I could justify paying a monthly subscription just to see those two articles, and so I miss out on their journalism, and they miss out on my readership.I know it’s way out of fashion these days, but I’m still hoping that microtransactions will happen in some form, because I really, really want to pay for the great journalism out there, but I just don’t want to pay for enough it from one source to make the subscription model viable.

  73. jottos

    I don’t think the content apps are for people like us, we’re 5 sigma outliers