Less Discovery, Less Promotion: How is this a Good Thing?

[responsive]Newsstand-iPhone-lg[/responsive]The Apple App Store is definitely not in good favor with magazine publishers. D. B. Hebbard of Talking New Media has long been keeping an eye on things there, and he reports that the latest change make a bad thing even worse.

“The Apple Newsstand has finally seen some changes this month, but publishers are not exactly going to be thrilled with what they see as Apple’s App Store team have seemingly gone out of their way to make the digital newsstand even harder to use,” Hebbard writes.

Hebbard has told us before of problems with the App Store, and he’s far from their only critic. Problems of discovery and improper categorization continue to plague Apple, and Hebbard notes that recent changes to the program do little to help and in fact make things worse.

What it means for publishers is falling sales, slowing growth and even declines. If we liken it to a physical newsstand, can you imagine the result of readers having to manually sift through stacks of unsorted magazines to find a new title? Nobody’s got time for that.

Hebbard asks a valid question: “Is it possible that the changes to the Newsstand are a deliberate attempt to kill it off?”

“It seems like a tin-hat theory until one realizes that Apple has known about the problems with the Newsstand for a long time, and Apple employees I’ve spoken to have expressed shock and embarrassment at the condition of the Newsstand. Still it remains as before (only worse),” Hebbard states.

While it might seem outlandish to think they are killing their own, Hebbard notes that Apple is not the only transgressor.

“Neither Google nor Amazon have stepped up to make their own digital newsstands significantly better and so we are stuck in this horrible sales environment where all the digital publishing vendors continue to push for more and more new digital publications to be launched into the digital newsstands, while the digital newsstands become a far less attractive place to buy and sell media,” he says.

Digital magazines have a tough enough time finding their audience and engaging their readers. This makes their future look awfully grim.