Newspaper and magazine apps are somewhat lacking from Apple's list of top-selling apps of 2010. But content seems stronger than ever in new forms: functional apps, aggregation and games.
Apple's Rewind 2010 (available in iTunes
) looks back at the most popular items in the iTunes store this year, including the most popular free and paid apps for the iPad both overall and by category. On the paid side for the iPad, newspapers and magazines aren't represented well, though a couple shined through in different categories, such as GQ magazine
in the lifestyle category ($4.99) and the New York Post
in the news category ($1.99).
The majority of popular news-related apps were aggregators, such as Instapaper
, which enables readers to save stories for offline reading, and The Early Edition
, which calls itself a “personal, daily newspaper.” It's telling that newspapers themselves are not best-selling on the iPad, but aggregators of their free content are. Publishers should note that people will pay for a good experience to read content.
Top free apps on the iPad
Magazine, newspaper and other traditional publishers were much more well-represented on the list of top free apps compared to paid apps (no surprise there). In various categories, the top free iPad apps from publishers of news and magazines include:
Popular apps included both magazine/newspaper replicas with extra bells and whistles (e.g. Time Inc.'s Sports Illustrated); Web content specifically created for the iPad (NPR); and more utilitarian apps such as Condé Nast's Epicurious app, featuring shopping lists and recipes.
Such branded, functional apps
are notably popular on the iPad (as well as on the iPhone). Several other publisher-created apps with more functional attributes showed up on the list of most popular free and paid iPad apps, including The Food Network's In the Kitchen
app ($1.99), ESPN's free game-day companion app called ScoreCenter
, and WebMD
's symptom checker.
The success of those types of apps could be promising for publishers, however, branded, functional apps still seem to do better when free. As MediaPost
noted, more generic utilitarian apps were more dominant on the top-selling list compared to branded versions. Like magazine/news content, free, functional apps are more popular than paid apps.
But consumers show some willingness to pay for both function and entertainment. According to a recent Nielsen study
, the most popular paid app categories are games (62 percent), books (54 percent) and music (50 percent), followed by shopping, news and headlines, and celebrity and entertainment news (about 45 percent each).
Publishers are slowly starting to innovate around integrating social games into content
, and it makes sense given the popularity of games on mobile devices. While it's still early, this first year of iPad apps can help inform content strategy for the tablet in the future. Plenty of news apps are doing well, but new ways of consuming content ― including aggregation, games and functional apps ― seem like something iPad owners might be more willing to pay for.