the economist
Credit: By saschapohflepp on Flickr. Some rights reserved.
The Economist is to launch a web app for Chrome, allowing users to access the magazine's 'lean back' content directly through their desktop or laptop web browser.

The Chrome app, which will be publicly released in May, is essentially a clone of the Economist's HTML5 app for the Blackberry Playbook and provides the content in an "immersive", finite magazine format rather than the potentially endless access available on the website.

"Really what we sell is the feeling of being informed when you get to the end," Tom Standage, digital editor of The Economist, told Journalism.co.uk, "but you never get that feeling from the internet because you never get to the end of the internet."

He said that initially the 'lean back' magazine content was strictly on mobile devices and in print, whereas 'lean forward' content – blogs, discussion forums, comment threads, multimedia – was on desktop, but their 'follow the reader' mantra dictated a change in digital strategy.

"One of the interesting things is that people who read through the iPad actually spend longer reading it per week than people who read the print edition," he said, "which is kind of amazing for a device that also has Twitter and angry birds on it.

"So clearly putting boundaries around it or just saying here is a finite amount of stuff that you can read and that you can get to the end of is very appealing."

As a result of readers asking for a more immersive experience on desktop and greater access to interactive features on mobile, the two elements are now being re-structured.

The full magazine content is only available to subscribers, while casual readers have access to the 'editor's picks', but every article has an audio streaming option. Where this feature was previously only available through downloading large files of podcasts, the streaming option of the HTML5 app has received positive feedback almost immediately.

"The idea is we want to provide our content on whatever platform people want to consume it on so that's everything from smartphones to basic Kindles to web browsers to tablets," Standage said. "And audio is part of that too. That's another way you can access the Economist and we're looking at emerging platforms as well."

The Economist already offered plug-ins for Chrome but is set to join the New York Times, Huffington Post and the Times of India as another major news organisation with a Chrome app

Update: This article has been updated to clarify that while Journalism.co.uk and other users have been given access, the app itself will not be on general release until mid-May.

Free daily newsletter

If you like our news and feature articles, you can sign up to receive our free daily (Mon-Fri) email newsletter (mobile friendly).

blog comments powered by Disqus