December 31, 2012

The Next Web Nixes Android Magazine

The Next Web is cutting ties with its TNW Magazine for Android.

TNW Founder Boris Veldhuijzen van Zanten posted the news on Sunday, detailing the reasons for the company’s decision to ditch the Android version of its magazine. TNW Magazine will remain on iOS.

In the post, van Zanten said the company, “…had to deal with frequent crashes, a less intuitive interface and a platform that is even more fragmented than iOS.”

He also said the downloads were dramatically in the favor of iOS, with 80 downloads on Apple’s platform for each one on Android. Adding in links for downloading music and movies was far less seamless than on Apple’s platform, which meant the developers just kept removing content. The result, the post said, was a “dumbed down” version of the app for Android.

Ironically, 40 of the 54 reviewers on Google Play (or 74 percent) gave the app four or five out of five stars. I enjoyed using it on a Nexus 7, even if the multimedia content was not as robust.

Many commenters took to the site to complain about the decision, blaming Apple’s proprietary tools or a lack of investment by The Next Web. TNW moderators defended the decision and asked readers to understand it was primarily about time and finances.

Once the passion settles down, readers must remember that digital magazines are still in their infancy. Currently Apple is really the only one with the strongest ecosystem and set of developer tools. It makes sense for some companies to target and strategically manage their resources. On the other hand, there were plenty of people happy with the TNW app on Android, even if it was lighter on additional content.

I am optimistic that TNW faithful who are disappointed should have confidence that in the future this will change. Consider that only two years ago Android had a fairly dreadful interface and nowhere near the app ecosystem as iOS. Now the app quality is far more competitive and the launch of Nexus devices and other flagship phones have made Android the most popular mobile operating system. As long as Google continues to use this momentum to strengthen the kind of tools available, there is a good chance the Play store will offer the same kind of options as iOS.

It is certainly disappointing that I will no longer be able to get TNW Magazine on my Nexus 7. Yet instead of ranting at the TNW team, the right response is to hope that Google will continue to strengthen its developer tools.

This month’s issue is the final one for Android. That is, unless TNW changes its mind. Let’s hope at some point the editors do that.

Image Credit: Google Play

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