They allowed themselves to be convinced that producing editorial content for the apps and developing the apps themselves would be simple.
We have several clients in the publishing industry and see first hand the pain they go through when it comes to developing apps.
According to a study by Miratech, people prefer apps over mobile web. Even if that’s not totally true, another study estimate some 30% of US adults own an E-Reader / Tablet now. Even if publishers don’t love apps, it would appear their customers do. So they need to do something about it.
The problem is adding another format, like an app, to your workflow is non-trivial. Unfortunately, if I’m a customer, that’s not my problem. We see great user experiences coming from other companies, in some cases small and obscure, and wonder why these big corporate publishers can’t follow suit.
Publishers have to figure this stuff out and make some hard choices in order to survive. Hopefully, they’ll err on the side of a creating a better user experience and not on a form that is easier for them to deliver.