{{ searchResult.published_at | date:'d MMMM yyyy' }}

Loading ...
Loading ...

Enter a search term such as “mobile analytics” or browse our content using the filters above.

No_results

That’s not only a poor Scrabble score but we also couldn’t find any results matching “”.
Check your spelling or try broadening your search.

Logo_distressed

Sorry about this, there is a problem with our search at the moment.
Please try again later.

iPad

Remember the fanfare when Wired launched its first iPad app, and the frenzy that ensued once Conde Nast announced it had been downloaded over 100,000 times? 

Publishers need to swallow the fact that Wired's success was an anomaly, and it isn't likely to be repeated unless the current app development and pricing strategies change dramatically.

The proof? According to stats from the Audit Bureau of Circulation (ABC), iPad app sales for the top publishers, including Wired, declined over the course of 2010. 

So what happened? Why aren't magazine publishers' iPad apps living up to the hype?

Despite the claims, iPad magazines aren't really worth much more than their print counterparts (at least in their current iterations) 

Monday Note's Frédéric Filloux sums it up quite nicely: 

I began to harbor some doubts when traveling to the United States: I realized that, instinctively, I was picking up the very same magazines at newsstands. With the product available at the right combination of time, price and location at nearby kiosks, having it on my iPad suddenly lost its appeal.

Print "on steroids" isn't good enough 

Though most iPad magazines offer the ability to watch videos, and click or swipe links and ads, for the most part, the reading experience still isn't quite "interactive." Per Filloux: 

A (retroactively obvious) fact emerges: a magazine designed for print is much better on, ahem … paper than on bits. The browsing experience, the photographs, even the sensation of reading long form articles are all more enjoyable on a physical glossy.

Publishers lured themselves into thinking electronic convenience plus a dash of add-ons would fill the gap between paper and tablet. Nope, they didn’t. Once ubiquitous availability removed the storage advantage (which only appeals to the road-warriors segment), the magazine on paper won. 

At best, iPad magazines feel like touch-enabled PDFs; at worst, they resemble interactive CD-ROMs "from the 1990s." That's why there was so much interest around Flipboard; it actually brought new functionality to the iPad reading process. 

Magazine publishers need to figure out how to build social-sharing and other interactive tools into their apps, and make it feel organic, if they're going to be successful. It's a tough, expensive lesson to learn, especially since there's no real data available about what's working.

Perhaps publishers will use some of the research emerging about the most engaging kinds of iPad ads, to help influence the development of their apps.  

Apps are too expensive to sustain reader interest 

It also comes down to pricing. In some cases, iPad versions of publications can be more expensive than their print counterparts.

Sure, there's the possibility of having two or three back-issues of a favorite magazine available on demand but aside from specific targets like business travellers, how many people actually need that storage? 

Without quantifiable additional value, which clearly, consumers aren't getting with the current iteration of iPad magazines, so what's the incentive for them to pay a premium? 

Publishers must keep innovating

With a rumored new iPad launch later this year, and dozens of tablets to premiere at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Vegas this week, there's no way that publishers will give up on trying to create better magazine apps.

Let's just hope that the declining iPad app sales are inspiring them to come up with more innovative, interactive, and valuable experiences. 

Tameka Kee

Published 3 January, 2011 by Tameka Kee

Tameka Kee has been covering digital media with a focus on online advertising, social media and gaming since 2007. Find her at tamekakee.com or follow her on Twitter

49 more posts from this author

Comments (13)

Comment
No-profile-pic
Save or Cancel
Avatar-blank-50x50

Benoit Maison

Never mind that it takes one hour to download the hundreds of megabytes for ONE issue of Wired magazine...

almost 6 years ago

Avatar-blank-50x50

griff

"Magazine publishers need to figure out how to build social-sharing and other interactive tools into their apps, and make it feel organic"

for years people have been saying that publishers need to.... do something.  I'm a mag publisher and it became immedietely obvious a decade ago that that the sprawling nature of a website is nothing like a magazine. It's an entirely different journey for the reader. We know how to create good copy and that's what we are good at.  Asking us to get under the skin of social sharing blah blah blah is impossible because there are many many thousands of people out there already doing this a thousand times better. This social malarky isn't our business any more than making Angry Birds or creating a dating app is our business. The social aspect doesn't pay our print bills or the editorial payroll. 

The evolution of magazines isn't going to be the ipad or the myriad of other gadgets that will come out next year, its just going to be smaller more efficient publishing companies that make a fraction of the revenue that we did a decade ago.  Thats the blunt truth. We should stop waiting for "the savior of magazines" because it isn't going to happen. It's just going to be different, less sexy.

almost 6 years ago

Tameka Kee

Tameka Kee, Writer/Analyst at Econsultancy

@griff "The evolution of magazines isn't going to be the ipad or the myriad of other gadgets that will come out next year, its just going to be smaller more efficient publishing companies that make a fraction of the revenue that we did a decade ago"

Well said. The one thing I disagree with is the notion that pubs don't need to integrate social tools. Have you seen how many pubs quickly adopted the "Like" button or Facebook Connect? It's simply because social drives more pageviews/more eyeballs/more exposure for the content (and the ads). 

almost 6 years ago

Avatar-blank-50x50

Lary

Fascinating subject that will dominate the publishing industry for years to come. But,nI think Filloux's comments are simplistic and naive. Sure, MAYBE you'll happen to pass in front of a kiosk at just the moment the latest edition of your favorite magazine comes out ... But these odds are infinitesimal. Further, why a magazine designed for print can't create a better digital experience is a generality with little evidence. I think that Macworld in digital form, with URL's everywhere to dig deeper, no piles of old issues lying around, is already a richer experience than the printed version ... and all of this is just getting started. BTW, the statistics here are quoted incorrectly by a large margin. The Galaxy Tab did NOT sell 10 million units, more like a reported one million in the first few months, The 10m applies to the Samsung smart phones, according to the article you referenced.

almost 6 years ago

Tameka Kee

Tameka Kee, Writer/Analyst at Econsultancy

@Lary -- Mental glitch RE: the Samsung Galaxy Tab vs. the Samsung Galaxy S (smartphone). Will update accordingly. Thanks for the catch. 

almost 6 years ago

Avatar-blank-50x50

Paulo Calisto, Business Development Manager at Macau Tower

For me it is just wonderful that all these good mags come into the ipad. When you live in Macau like myself you can't find these kind of Magazines in Newstands or if you find it it is the Chinese version of it. So please let all the good publications be available on the ipad.

almost 6 years ago

Yves Goulnik

Yves Goulnik, Digital strategy director at Strategik & Numerik | Indigenus

The other issue not raised in this article, is what is the need for dedicated applications when the browser can handle most content quite nicely, whether or not it's free?

Why clutter the springboard with a BBCnews app, one for PLOS, another one for Wired etc., all doing pretty much the same thing, with a different layout, slight functional differences but no consistency?

almost 6 years ago

Avatar-blank-50x50

Louis Winthorp III

Publishers will one day realise that the only way to sell iPad apps, magazines, web subs or whatever - is GOOD CONTENT. Forget the bells and whistles, if people want to read what you are writing then they will pay for it! Wired FAIL

almost 6 years ago

Vincent Amari

Vincent Amari, Online Consultancy at Business Foresights Ltd

Another issue which although I've mentioned before hasn't been addressed by articles like these is; expecting or forcing users to download/buy an App for every publication we wish to read.

IMHO once the novelty has gone, everyone will soon realise how impractical this business model is, and we'll see a massive reduction in mobile Apps.

Demand will rise for all web content to be accessible via common browser software, irrelevant of user hardware - mobile, pads, notebooks, PC's, TV. At most, users may accept installing browser plugins to gain some extra functionality.

almost 6 years ago

Yves Goulnik

Yves Goulnik, Digital strategy director at Strategik & Numerik | Indigenus

Vincent, that's exactly what I meant in my post above

almost 6 years ago

Stuart Aplin

Stuart Aplin, Owner at Decibel Media

Interesting article, and comments. It would seem that, if 2010 was all about getting the apps released and testing various concepts, 2011 will be about learning what works and optimising offerings accordingly The best content apps actually provide both a more engaging experience for the user and additional content that can't be found elsewhere so some publishers are starting to look at the app as a unique opportunity that sits somewhere between the web browser and the print magazine experiences yet offers something different to both The pricing issue could be the biggest stumbling block though, with publishers desperate to secure new revenue streams and users reticent to pay to get the same content on different platforms. Perhaps now is the time for a truely platform neutral approach whereby one payment gives the user access to a specific set of content across print, web, app, podcast etc? That said, it'll be interesting to see how the tablet market grows in 2011 as both publishers and consumers get used to the platform and drive innovation

almost 6 years ago

Avatar-blank-50x50

Charles

Stuart - like a Spotify for magazines? Speculatively speaking, I think you're onto something here. I have always had a real issue with buying music from iTunes because of the lack of tangibility - I can't sell my iTunes library. I think this is the same with all digital media - music, books, magazines and everything else. I subscribed to Spotify and I felt much happier - renting all (or most!) of the music ever created. I love this model because I know I don't own it but as long as I keep up my £10 monthly fee I have access to it.

How could this type of subscription model be adopted by publishers?

almost 6 years ago

Terry Chisholm

Terry Chisholm, Manager of Digital Services at Pulse Group

To get these to work... I think that Apple should:

  1. Add more storage space, charge less for them in the first place - to remove price barriers to entry
  2. Make them all 3G and handle cell networks for purchases more like Amazon's Kindle does - (where you buy things and don't worry about contracts with ongoing cell providers). Possibly add download fee (to cover network costs without making a commitment to a contract) that would be based on file size, then provide options to download a light version on 3G and full version when connected to WI-FI later with different price options.
  3. Encourage advertising spaces like bus stops, shop windows, and other "street level" or public transpoort ad spaces to add "bluetooth advertising transmitters" so that users can switch on their iPad and click to "buy now" anywhere.
I think Publications should develop there apps to include 2 options for updates. 1 for the entire thing, and 2 for the just the basics (that would load more as you click to view). So that updating content in an app can be done when you aren't on Wifi without paying a cell provider tons of dosh.

I also agree with Vincent Amari. There is a gap in the market for an app that lets you preview bits from multiple pubications. I would be surprised if major publishers like IPC/EMAP/NewsCorp aren't already looking into this... But they should be. That'd be a unique subscription that would be unique enough to pay for... and give the impression of added value, flexibility, etc.

Just my thoughts...

almost 6 years ago

Comment
No-profile-pic
Save or Cancel
Daily_pulse_signup_wide

Enjoying this article?

Get more just like this, delivered to your inbox.

Keep up to date with the latest analysis, inspiration and learning from the Econsultancy blog with our free Daily Pulse newsletter. Each weekday, you ll receive a hand-picked digest of the latest and greatest articles, as well as snippets of new market data, best practice guides and trends research.