Microsoft announced Wednesday the release of MSN Onit for iPhone and iPad. The app, which debuted as a Windows Phone 7 app, offers what everyone is looking for from Microsoft, advice for men. Facetiousness aside, the release is a brilliant move by Microsoft that helps elevate the Windows Phone platform by association with Apple’s App Store.
Let’s look at the app first. In a blog post at MSN announcing the release, the company wrote that users will get advice and trivia, “on subjects ranging from science to history to sex. You’ll get great automotive reviews, first drives and slideshows. You’ll get tips on getting in shape, staying in shape or amping up your workout. Eat & Drink features provide you with tips on cooking the perfect steak, picking the perfect beer or navigating the restaurant menu for lean dining options. You’ll find DIY articles and guides, the best in fashion and style advice for men, and sports—the latest updates as well as a lighter look. Catch up on what you missed last night on TV or explore the realm of pop culture and sci-fi.”
Our initial reaction was to start and then quickly stop with simply making fun of the idea that somewhere there are a lot of men confused about life, wishing that they knew more about cars and drinking beer, who were secretly hoping that Microsoft could help them. “Help me Steve Ballmer, you’re my only hope.”
While that is still on our minds, the reality is that the app is well-made. The iPad version has a great interface and lots of professional content, and the current issue has a couple of dozen girlie pics with women that are all-but-nudes. We hear a lot of guys like that sort of thing, and it’s certainly done well for FHM and Maxim. Better yet, Microsoft says new pics and articles are posted
The magazine also has apps with exercise advice, complete with a companion article on eating for muscle development, a celebrity interview, and an Internet TV show called The College Experiment. And drinking advice — there’s also an article on liquor.
Screenshot from MSN Onit for iPad.
It’s a great looking, high production value men’s magazine with a terrific iPad interface (we didn’t poke around in the iPhone version, but it seems reasonable it’s similar) that was clearly built from the ground up for a touch interface. It even pimps Bing by offering a convenient Bing search at the top of some pages.
This is what makes it such a brilliant move by Microsoft, or at least by Microsoft’s MSN unit. By releasing the app on both the Windows Phone Apps Marketplace and Apple’s App Store for iOS devices, Microsoft adds one more high profile app from the App Store that can also be found on Windows Phone 7. For Microsoft, “one more” app is hugely important at this stage of the game because the company has had a slow go of bringing developers to the Windows Phone 7 platform.
Who cares if they had to make it themselves? From a perception standpoint, it is important for Microsoft to get as much premium content from the App Store available on the Windows Phone Apps Marketplace as possible. It may even be more important than having exclusive premium content because so few people will ever know about that the exclusive content is premium if they haven’t seen it, and…well, who’s going to see it if it’s only on Windows Phone 7?
No one at this point in the race, but by creating its own premium content and putting it in both places, Microsoft can start building the perception that you can find (at least some) great content on Windows Phone 7, too.