When it comes to publishers making the most of native app development, many of the high-profile examples of people doing something interesting tend to be consumer magazines that have stretched the boundaries to build aesthetically pleasing, interactive apps that lure in readers.

In comparison, examples of B2B publishers building native apps that go beyond the page-turning magazine replica formula aren’t as widespread. However, there’re out there: here are four business publishers that have bothered to go the extra mile.

Lloyd’s List

Lloyd’s List has a long, long pedigree, but it’s also one of the most digitally up-to-date publishers. Launched in the first half of the 18th Century, Lloyd’s provides shipping news and analysis, but has also pushed heavily into delivering shipping data from its Lloyds List Intelligence arm as well.

That approach has been extended into its iPad and iPhone apps with full access to data services and archives. The app also caches content to allow access offline. The app is an extension of the core service on to mobile devices and is free to subscribers to the website.

Launched in April 2011, buy the end of that year the app had racked up more than 3,000 downloads.

DodsPeople

Political publishers Dods, famous for its directories and now data services, provides intelligence and information on politics across the UK and Europe. Its DodsPeople app is, like Lloyds list, included as part of a subscription package.

However, unlike Lloyds List, DodsPeople doesn’t deliver editorial content as part of the package but instead provides an information directory of MPs, including everything from telephone numbers and email addresses to voting histories and marital status.

The app is a simple but effective example of delivering data Dods sells in a way that makes it easier to use in day to day work for subscribers who need to contact MPs.

Estates Gazette

The Estates Gazette app offers a similar level of access to news, comment and other content as the Lloyds List app, though users can access each new edition of the magazine 24 hours before print subscribers receive it.

It also offers subscribers who have stumped up extra for its EGi web service access to archive stories and a property search function providing building reports and other data.

V3

I Include technology site V3 here not becasue they have decided to do anything especially unique with their tablet app, but because they have actually got one at all.

While the bulk of publications putting out digitall editions are doing them  to replace print V3, like consumer site Techradar, has gone the other way, turning online only content into a magazine like format.

Unlike Techradar’s effort .tech and more in keeping with the other B2B examples listed here, the app is a free add-on for existing subscribers to the site.  

–Another business publisher producing apps worth mentioning is Industry Dive – which has produced iPhone and Android smartphone apps, but hasn’t produced a tablet version. The reasons behind that are clear from the firm’s experience with mobile far. As CEO Sean Griffey says: “We are now seeing over 25% of our web traffic is mobile, and almost 50% of emails are opened on phones.”

Opportunity

B2B publishers have had less pressure to develop innovative, interactive apps. That’s in part because they have been to a degree sheltered from competition due to the generally specialist nature of the content they produce. It’s also for the simple reason that as publications designed to help people work better, demand for access is more focused on the working day when people are in front of a computer screen rather than on the move.

It’s also worth noting that all four of the examples above are add-ons to existing online subscription services, adding value rather than standing as products in and of themselves. Making a business case for such products can be difficult, but many B2B publishers increasingly see the importance of embedding themselves more firmly into their subscribers’ lives.

At a very basic level, apps offer a greater opportunity for B2Bs. As the shift towards workflow tools which help people carry out tasks increases, the interactive nature of mobile apps can deliver greater value than the aesthetic wizadry that provides a less tangible improvement to consumer products.