Cover Story: Four Publishers Reveal Their App Strategies
"It's a slow build," she says of growing an audience. "This isn't a consumer product where you suddenly have a million people downloading it." Because the app is well-suited to corporate leadership courses and seminars, Shannon expects download "bumps" to come when it is integrated into such programs.
While the App Store brings the advantage of discoverability for those unfamiliar with the Leadership Challenge brand, Apple's policy prohibiting in-app purchases presents a difficulty because the app is meant to tie-in directly to other products and platforms, Shannon says. Because of this, Pfeiffer is talking to Apple about allowing new features such as bulk app purchases.
Flash Forward: the Kaplan approach
Educational publisher Kaplan has found that, even with an audience that skews young, users of their products are looking for the evolutionary, rather than the revolutionary.
"A consistent theme in our students' feedback is that they're not looking for apps that substantively change their learning experience," says Maureen McMahon, President of Kaplan Publishing. "What appeals most to them are apps that enable them to do something they already do—just in a more convenient or portable way. For example, our students have always found flashcards to be useful study tools. Delivering the same content in mobile apps that can shuffle the 'cards' and track right and wrong answers is more convenient and more helpful."
With this in mind, Kaplan begins thinking about apps early in the product development process. (Kaplan both develops apps in-house and works with outside vendors, depending on the project.) "Whether or not we develop an app isn't dependent on the product, but whether it makes sense to support a particular learning program," McMahon says. "Our focus is always on the best way to deliver effective learning programs."
Success is measured by whether students find the app truly helpful. "We serve a student population that's very tech- savvy, connected and opinionated. Because we survey and communicate with them regularly, we're fortunate to have early and immediate insight into what they think is 'working' and what is not."
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