Want to know how to get in that featured app section of the Apple App Store or the Newsstand section? Yes, well, so does everyone else.
The answer? There isn’t one, sorry. But as Mike Goldsmith, editor-in-chief for iPad and tablet editions at Future Publishing, told the Specialist Media Show in Birmingham, there are various things you can do to make Apple like you a little bit more. (Read Immediate Media's take on interactive vs replica iPad apps here).
– Do something amazing: Goldsmith says it’s essential to make something that is genuinely impressive. Whereas there is a point to making something that’s essentially a facsimile of the printed magazine edition (see Immediate Media above), Future prefers to make things that will raise the eyebrows of readers and the folks at Apple.
– Show your work early: He says it’s well worth staying in touch with Apple’s customer relations and PR people as soon as possible about whatever it is you’re working on, especially if you have a big partnership or eye-catching brand attached to the project.
– Start small: Goldsmith likes interactivity strongly recommends “doing a page-turner” as a publisher’s first attempt at getting into the app store. Total Film, one of Future’s flagship titles, started life as a page-turner – a more fancy interactive version was initially rejected.
– Support retina display: Apple loves anything that lets it show off the capabilities of its new gadgets, so it will show a natural preference for highlighting apps that support The New iPad’s retina display, says Goldsmith. Or if you do a replica edition, just do 300ppi. “Does it make a different to the consumers? not really but the gatekeepers like it.”
– Don’t just do tablets: A very wise point and an unusual one in this gung-ho age of iPad-mad magazine publishers: “Do something else because none of this might work,” warns Goldsmith.
– Don’t always call the helpdesk: An obvious but important way to make friends with Apple is to not call their customer relations people all the time saying “my app’s broken, can you help”. “Sort out your own problems, don’t be a problem child,” as Goldsmith puts it. “You want Apple to think ‘the people at Future really know what they’re doing.’”
– Be ready with app store artwork: Because you never know – Apple might just tap you on the shoulder and give you the good news that you’re going to be featured. In which case, have the artwork ready to go. However, “Don’t think you’re in control with this, don’t push water up the hill. Even if your team are on deadline, you do this.”
– And do all this again, every month: So that was all easy… but a big magazine publisher like Future works on big iOS releases every month and is industrialising the process to make it faster leaner. And improvements matter too: “Don’t just think if you’ve made it as automatic as possible, be prepared to keep coming in with enhancements and telling the likes of Apple that you’re bringing them news customers.”
And finally an anecdote from Tim Brooks, former MD at Guardian News & Media who chaired the session. Apple phoned him to ask if the Guardian’s new iPhone app could be featured in a TV advert.
Only one thing, asks Apple’s rep: Would they mind changing the logo from blue to red? Brooks said no and the advert ran anyway. But as he asks, could anyone think this happening in reverse? A publisher asking if Apple could change the colour of an iPad?