Kiwis finally get to give iPad the finger, but it’s slim pickings on App front

For months the New Zealand tech retailers have been displaying a range of iPad paraphernalia for sale in their stores and, as of today, they actually get to sell the object all that paraphernalia is associated with. But after all the hype, all the talk of publishing revolutions and all the feverish Tweetbooking about Jobs Almighty and his newest hero product, there seems to be a surprising dearth of local applications available on the day of the iPad’s release in New Zealand.

In a not very scientific study, we searched for ‘New Zealand’ and ‘NZ’ on our gleaming iPad and found just 10 Kiwi-made iPad Apps, not including games, with NZ Herald, Radio New Zealand, TV Guide, Weather NZ, North & South, George FM, New Zealand Mountain Biker, Harcourts Mobile Agent and a couple of marine and traffic Apps currently on offer (bear with us as we use the strange term ‘Apps’ constantly throughout).

The lack of local offerings shouldn’t really be too much of a hardship for users, however: websites still work well, as do most iPhone Apps, and there are plenty of international Apps on offer. But the immersive, interactive benefits of the iPad for publishers, art directors, readers and advertisers have only been realised by a select few so far.

Obviously it’s early days in New Zealand and there’s not much of a domestic market for the Apps yet. No doubt there will be a few more to come out of the woodwork soon, but at the moment it seems to be more of a ‘look at us, we’re market leaders’ approach.

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The NZ Herald App, which does all the newsy things you’d expect it to do, looks good. It’s at the top of the download charts at present and it’s received some very positive reviews so far. And the App, which was developed in partnership with Shift and Carnival Labs, is free to download for a limited time thanks to the Herald’s principal sponsor Mercedes and its advertising partners Air New Zealand, Vodafone and Yellow.

Spencer Bailey, general manager and publisher, says the Herald has focused its attention on “delivering an App that appeals to iPad users—it’s image-driven and showcases the striking photography we have—as well as offering our advertisers new ways to reach a high quality audience. We realised very early on the huge potential iPad has in New Zealand. Even before its official launch we were already seeing up to 1,000 users accessing nzherald.co.nz on a daily basis via their iPad. So an App was an obvious step for us. It offers consumers more choice and advertisers a new set of opportunities.”

Editor Jeremy Rees says readers can now get the latest news from a “brand they trust combined with the interactivity of the iPad”.

“We already have a leading newspaper, website and mobile offering so our iPad App is simply another way for our readers to access their favourite Herald content in real-time everywhere they go. And because the content is hand-picked by our editorial team it steers users towards the most important stories of the day and the latest news updates.”

ACP Media has just gone live with its App for North & South. And while it’s free to download, each issue costs $6.49 (each issue is also 50mb, so you better make sure you’re connected to the wireless or have a good data plan).

ACP chief executive Paul Dykzeul says North & South is the first title of many destined for the device.

“We have been itching to do this for years. We can not only retain the ‘look and feel’ of the printed page, but enhance it by embedding high-quality video, hyperlinks and more details and images. It provides us with another amazing way to deliver the content we are incredibly proud of.”

North & South editor Virginia Larson says the magazine has faced up to the modern world and embraced the opportunities the technology presents to publishers. As a result, she expects it to be popular with the expat readership.

“Shipping hard copies of magazines across the world just became redundant,” Larson says. “Why would you do that when you can enhance your read with rich and colourful content such as video and a peek behind the scenes of the stories? … “You can’t ignore progress. That’s not to say people won’t continue to enjoy holding a fresh, crisp magazine in their hands. But as publishers, we have to consider those who prefer to get their in-depth current affairs digitally.”

The North & South App was designed by Cactuslab and director Karl von Randow says it has been working on the project since April, developing Apps simultaneously for the iPad and iPhone.

Radio New Zealand and George are also offering iPad Apps at $1.29 and $2.59 respectively (ah, the financial joy of the App, where humans seem content to pay despite the fact it’s long been free to stream the sations on your boring old computer).

Much like building a stadium for the Rugby World Cup, there’s obviously been quite a bit of pressure on the bigger media companies to have the goods ready on time. So where’s TVNZ offering, we hear you ask. Well, the launch of TVNZ’s App, which TVNZ’s Digital Media team has been working on for the last couple of months, is apparently “imminent”.

“We are initially focusing on delivering news content to the iPad—a dedicated news, weather and TV schedule iPad app is the priority, but TVNZ is prototyping a separate iPad application for the highly popular TVNZ Ondemand service as well”, says Tom Cotter, general manager of TVNZ Digital Media.

TVNZ’s news iPad app will also include comprehensive weather information and a TV schedule that will cover all TVNZ and free-to-air channels. Additional functionality and features are already in the pipeline and will continue to be rolled out to the iPad and iPhone apps over the next few weeks, with a focus on video.

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