7,000 users and counting: Stuff makes its entry into app-world

We announced the launch of Stuff.co.nz’s iPad and iPhone apps yesterday… something which many of Stuff’s most avid readers (with iPhones or iPads) would say has been a long time coming. In the past day alone since we launched, both apps have racked up over 7,000 new users combined.

Back in July when Apple announced the retail launch for the iPad in New Zealand, we made the decision not to join the invariable wagon rush to have an app out in the market during the first day or week to coincide with the launch.

Instead, we chose to focus on the product’s functionality, its quality and also some  of the key missing elements of apps all around the world which have been launched at haste and found wanting. Just to give an example, one such element which still persists today is the lack of social sharing functionality of many content-based apps.

Another example, this time on the addition of a unique functionality, would be editorial’s unwavering requirement to ensure that the “assignment” function – which allows readers to interact directly with the Stuff newsroom to get reporting assignments and provide eyewitness accounts – was included as a key feature of the release and more importantly… that it worked as intended.

Making these choices obviously came at the cost of time, which in turn meant that we would need to weigh the benefits of being “first out with a decent app” against  “out with a great app”.

Yes, being first is important sometimes, but in this particular case, the first-mover advantage would only have been temporary and bragging rights would’ve been more to do with the perception that being first might mean being the best which, in this case, isn’t true at all.

Furthermore,  on a daily basis about 10,000 visitors access the main Stuff.co.nz site using iPhones or iPads, so it’s clear to us that there was an existing base of potential app consumers.

On one hand, these people weren’t likely to stop reading Stuff just because we didn’t have an app (in fact, visitation to Stuff from iPad devices have been growing ever since its launch). In fact, there was a bigger risk and downside associated to the possibility that had we released a poor app in the interest of time, we could have annoyed 10,000 of our customers… disenchanting their experience and hence, potentially… losing some readers in the process.

So, for about 3 months after the iPad was launched in New Zealand (longer still for our readers with iPhones), many of our readers have continuously asked us when they will see a Stuff app out for them to download and use.

A few commentators have even questioned the curious absence of Fairfax NZ from the local app space… and what a glaring absence it would’ve been given that Stuff, after cleaning up and taking top honours at an industry and people’s choice awards this year, and as New Zealand’s largest online news site… was missing from the stable of NZ news media apps available on iTunes before yesterday.

Well… we’re glad to say that after months of waiting, the 2 Stuff iOS apps are finally here. We’re certainly happy with the product that we’ve released (but will continue to improve it) and we certainly hope it’s been worth the wait for you (at least these guys think so). No doubt, there will be many more releases to come from Fairfax in this space.

So hopefully with all being said, even if Stuff.co.nz wasn’t news media site in NZ to be “first out with a decent app”, we’re definitely hoping that we’ve been “first out with a great app”.

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