I’ve complained before in this blog about the terrible reliability of the New York Times readers, both on the PC and the iPad platforms. I praised the Wall Street Journal for their great iPad reader.
That was then.
For the few weeks, neither the New York Times nor the Wall Street Journal iPad app worked at all. They launched, displayed a splash screen and maybe some of the first page, and then they crashed. I tried rebooting to no avail. It took uninstalling and reinstalling both apps to get reading again.
While it is unusual for both of my go-to news readers to quit simultaneously, it’s not out of the ordinary at all to have iPad apps fail to start or mysteriously abend. I’ve talked to other users, and their experience more or less parallels mine. If this kind of unreliability happened on a PC, I’d be up in arms, but the fact that the platform is an iPad somehow makes me more tolerant. Everybody else seems not to care much, either. You ask about flakey apps, and everyone has a story; you ask what they plan to do, and they just shrug their shoulders.
It ticks me off that when an iPad app fails, it just closes with no error message from the OS. At least with Windows, you get a hint of what happened and a place to start looking for a fix.
The price of applications has something to do with our tolerance for unreliability. Many iPod apps are free, and what you expect for nothing? The ones that aren’t free cost very little. The fact that you haven’t shelled out a couple of hundred bucks for an app has to make you more tolerant.
While the apps themselves are free, e-subscriptions to the NYT and WSJ cost a few hundred dollars a year, and the subscriptions aren’t worth much without apps to run them on. I would hope that newspapers with paid subscriptions would take the reliability of their iPad apps as seriously as Adobe does with Photoshop or Microsoft with Office (both of which have similar cost of ownership), but we’re a long way from that happy day.