Publishers straddle the Apple-Google, App-Web divide
Apple wants mobile devices to be filled with apps. Google supports a world where people browse the web for most things. Now websites are increasingly caught in the middle of those competing visions.
Consider The Atavist Magazine, an online publication run by Evan Ratliff. To attract the broadest audience possible, Mr. Ratliff said he felt pressure to do everything twice: once for the web and once for the magazine’s app. But maintaining a website and getting readers for it while also building an audience of iPhone users with an app took time — too much time, Mr. Ratliff said. So last month, The Atavist shut down its app and decided to publish only on the web.
“Getting someone to download an app is way harder than targeting them and sending them stories through social media,” said Mr. Ratliff, co-founder of the magazine. The decision was difficult because The Atavist’s app had a following, and it is “hard to give up any audience once you have it,” he said. But in the end, the app’s limitations were too great, he said.
CreditBenjamin Norman for The New York Times
The Internet was supposed to be a place where billions of potential users could be reached in one place, simply and inexpensively. But as Apple focuses on apps and Google pushes the mobile web, businesses are grappling with a fragmenting online world.
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