Summary:

Historically slow to innovate their products and their editorial for the digital age, a trio of UK regional news publishers is this week tak…

A look at the white iPad 2.
photo: Tom Krazit

Historically slow to innovate their products and their editorial for the digital age, a trio of UK regional news publishers is this week taking its titles to iOS tablets and mobiles in their original form.

  • Archant of the east of England is debuting over 60 of its titles on iTunes Store’s Newsstand. Its Eastern Daily Press, Ipswich Star, Norwich Evening News and East Anglian Daily Times each launch app editions with a five-day trial, subsequent recurring subscriptions and free access to subscribers who purchased outside the app.
  • Gannett’s Newsquest digital MD Roger Green tells paidContent: “There are five trial apps that are going to be used to test various pricing and sampling strategies and to identify whether there is any difference in appeal between the different types of Newsquest product on offer. The five test titles are: The Northern Echo, Brighton Argus, Daily Echo Sports Pink, Oxford Times and Sutton Guardian. All paid for except Sutton Guardian which is on offer for free.”
  • Northcliffe’s Swansea-based daily South Wales Evening Post is launching with a 14-day free trial followed by tiered subscriptions of £6.99 for a month, £19.99 for three months, £37.99 for six months and £69.99 per year.

This is all a marked shift. According to research published in September 2011, of the only five mobile and tablet apps published by UK regional news owners, only one, The Belfast Telegraph, charged anything.

Researchers Francois Nel and Oscar Westlund criticised publishers for poor mobile strategies which cannibalised their revenue by using mobile only to give away content via free mobile websites.

Archant, Newsquest and Gannett (NYSE: GCI) are going to iOS using PageSuite’s Dynamic App platform, which replicates the printed papers’ old page-turning experience for the touchscreen.

It’s not the most elegant iPad experience, but it is more cost-effective than a custom build, and today’s launches instantly swell the number of UK regional publishers now publishing apps and paid apps.

PageSuite is claiming over 150,000 downloads per week from the 300 Dynamic App-powered app editions on iTunes Store, some seeing over 25 minutes viewing time.

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