Two Way Hard Three | Las Vegas Casino & Design Blog

August 18, 2011

LVRJ iPhone App Released. $6. Yes, seriously.

Posted by Hunter

So... the Las Vegas Review-Journal has an app. Did you know that? I didn't... Until today.

It was released June 30th.

Sure, we had heard they were working on one but I hadn't seen it on the store. Or mentioned on the RJ site. Maybe I missed it. After having seen the app, I have more questions than anything else.

First off, the app is iPhone only. It's not designed for iPad, a device far better suited for reading news. That strikes me as odd. Second, the app isn't called 'Review Journal' or anything remotely similar. It's called 'Las Vegas News'. What's even more odd is that it doesn't appear in searches for 'LVRJ', 'review journal' or the like. When you submit an app to the App Store, you can add search tags to help users find your app. It seems they have failed to do this - I had to have someone give me the search term to find it. Are there ads directing you to this app on their site? I haven't seen them.

Perhaps the biggest surprise is the price: $5.99. While that doesn't seem like a lot of money in the real world, in app terms that's like charging $40 for a movie ticket. It implies a significant value. The top ten apps in the news category range from $0.99 to $4.99. That's not counting quality free apps from outlets like USA Today.

I have a lot of experience with app pricing and $6 surprises me regardless of the value of the news they are providing. I have no problem with a developer charging a fair amount for their app but it should be priced based on what the market will bear. I will be shocked if this is a hit for them at this price.

For $6 you get... ads! Yes, even after charging a relatively high price, they're still including ads in the app. This is not the kind of thing that endears you to mobile users where screen space is at a huge premium. The mobile banners take up about 1/6 of the screen.

I'm wondering if this should even have been developed. As the 'app guy', you might be surprised to hear me say that. Well, I believe that apps can be great but the Web is also a fantastic platform on the desktop and on mobile. An iPhone app that just presents the same stuff people see on your Web site isn't much use to anyone. Sure, you can do cool stuff like push notifications for breaking news but lets be honest, the RJ doesn't have a great track record in that department either.

If you're going to build an app, it needs to prove it has a reason to exist by including features that can't be done (or not done easily) on the Web. It seems like it was created because it was on a marketing person's checkbox, one of my complaints about the many Vegas casino apps out there.

I want innovation.


Read archived comments (5 so far)
August 18, 2011 7:33 PM Posted by Brian Fey

Man are they gonna be disappointed!

August 19, 2011 10:30 AM Posted by Javi

There is also an Android version of the app as well, and it's also $5.99 over there. The last update to that app was August 15. The Android Market also displays how many downloads an app has publicly, and it only shows them as having 10-50 downloads.

I was going to give the actual developer (Verve Wireless, a third party developer) a break on this one, since they do pretty much what they are told, but shame on them on not including the words "LVRJ" and the like to help on their search results. But the LVRJ is mostly at fault. I'm sure they were the ones who set the pricing, and the decision to have ads on a paid app. A look at the developer's other apps, and their other prices appear to be either free or up to $2.99.

Should the app have been made? Sure, why not? But the LVRJ is foolish to think that they are going to get many downloads/purchases when the news is available for free on their own site.

As far as the iPad comment goes, I think it's a money decision - the developer definitely makes apps for the iPad (see St. Louis Post Dispatch), but I don't think the LVRJ wanted to shell out the money.

August 19, 2011 1:32 PM Posted by chuckmonster

After 15 years of trying, they still can't build a website that makes any cohesive sense... an app version of that is obviously destined to fail.

August 22, 2011 9:24 AM Posted by BillyInLasVegas

I agree with Mr. Monster, their website sucks why should the app be any different.

They need to hire the guy that does the Las Vegas Sun website. It's not great but the iPhone version looks nice and the regular version works well on an iPad too.

August 26, 2011 7:39 AM Posted by doc_al

Fits nicely with their for-profit copywright litigation strategy. Add number 6 to Dr Dave's list, the pungent scent of desperation wafting out of the newspaper offices in LV.