An article has appeared in the UK Telegraph criticizing publishers for their iPad apps. We all enjoy our favourite magazines but will we all fork out money for the iPad app? Could this be the future of paid journalism? Not according to this article.
Are most people happy viewing a digital version of their magazine on a website, and does an iPad app really offer anything more than what the websites already offer? Maybe this is exactly the same train of thought that top magazine Vogue had. They released an iPad app for their UK edition for £3.99. However, they will not be releasing another app until March next year. It’s sister Italian and US Vogue publication opted against releasing an iPad app for their editions and chose to channel the money into improving their website instead.
The UK Telegraph article lists 10 well known magazine publications, everything from Maxim to Vanity Fair, and details of their app sales when they released an iPad app for their individual publications. The download information is very interesting, highlighting some clear under-performing apps.
Khoi Vinh, former design director for the New York Times, posted a blog stating his distain for magazine apps for the iPad. He called them “bloated and user unfriendly” and says that the “literal translation of print publications into iPad apps is a disservice to the publishing industry.” Vinh refers to the iPad apps for established magazines like Wired and Popular Science as “overbearing”. He is also of the opinion that social media is what is going to shape the future of publishing. Not iPad apps.
Some feel that the under performance in sales of some magazine iPad apps is down to Apple – that they are not supporting publishers and giving them what they need from a possible partnership. Publishers are wanting a subscription option that allows them to collect subscriber data, not apple. This data is very relevant to advertisers as it allows them to build a portfolio on their subscribers customer market. And without this, publishers are struggling to offer print/digital bundles.