NY Times App IssuesPosted: January 17, 2012
NY Times App Issues
“This application had to be force closed” Or, let’s not forget the endless load circle that appears despite an abundance of 3G or WiFi available. ” Frustration is the only emotion when this message flashes on my iPad or iPod. When paying for a phone or tablet app there are certain levels of expectation. We have all downloaded an app only to have it require multiple updates and eventually the ever so hated message flashes, followed by the app crashing. The more credible the app creator the less these problems occur. However, this is not the case for the New York Times Newspaper Application. The New York Times is offering a free digital edition for its subscribers. Like with many apps, however, it occasionally is accustomed to updates. The issue at hand was the inability for the app to load after an update required by the NY Times app to fix certain issues and help accessibility.
In early July, the first NY Times app began to not load content and crash. However, this overnight issue was not corrected until over three weeks later. The long period of time between app problems and correction rendered consumers to decide between sticking out the offline time period and remain loyal to NY Times, or they could seek alternative methods for newsgathering. Poynter Institutes, Jim Robenesko followed this NY Times app problem closely by talking directly to the NY Times communications manager, Kristin N. Mason, about correcting the app problems. Mason’s responded to Robenekso by offering an explanation of the issue and timetable to re-launching the app.
“We have been and continue to take these issues very seriously, and the team is working around the clock to get them fixed. We are in the process of testing a new version of the app now and we hope to have it live by the end of next week, but it is a priority to ensure the app is working properly before we issue the update. We are also planning to release an update to the iPhone app very soon, which will offer stability and performance enhancement.”
For some, the initial outrage might have occurred when the NY Times began charging for the news app. The introduction of a “pay wall”, which allows consumers to download the app and view the top news section, but not use the app unless they pay. The monthly price tag for viewing NY Times content through an iPhone or iPad application starts at $19.99 for Newyorktimes.com access and tablet app, and $34.99 for the full digital access. Therefore, when the app began to crash the customers were unable to view content they were paying to view.
Timeliness is a crucial step to consider when paying customers are not allowed to use what they’re being billed to view. The length of time between issue and correction could have played a role in the app reviews. However, certain number of these negative ratings could stem from individuals who feel the app should not charge. According to the app ratings on iTunes, of the 18,725 ratings, 8,808 received one star out of 5. Only 4,771, of the 18,725 reviews, are above 3 stars. The implications of a nonworking, sluggish or crashing app can cause problems. The rise of news aggregate webpages that post and promote news for individuals can provide pressure for newspaper apps. It is imperative for brand labeled news apps to ensure their apps are the easiest, sleekest and most organized available for download, especially if subscription is required. For a news brand as reliable and trusted as the NY Times it’s inexcusable for the content to not be accessible to the customers compensating for news.
Overall, the NY Times brand and circulation continues to produce quality and effective journalism. However, this type of fiasco is a nightmare for a news provider that seeks to trade its content to the consumer for pay. All iPad and iPhone apps are prone to stall and need fixing throughout updating. However, it’s important to realize the important of timeliness in correcting issues in customers receiving content. I think that other subscription based apps can take the NY Times app crash an example of the importance of testing and re-testing apps before requiring an update!