Magazine apps

  • Posted: 02 November 2010 01:49 AM

    I have been generally disappointed with magazine apps thus far.  What started out looking promising has seemingly stalled.  The pricing is perhaps both my number one complaint and the easiest to fix.  Single issue pricing is absolutely necessary.  Single article pricing would be even better, though that would maybe have to await some format innovation.

    Khoi Vinh makes some provocative criticisms in this post.  He takes issue with the formats, the size, the use of Adobe technology, and most interestingly with iOS itself.  He asserts that the single window limitation of iOS makes iPad ill-suited for magazines.

    This raises a broader question of whether iOS will remain single window.

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    Posted: 02 November 2010 04:30 PM #1

    I have the Zinio app and have a few mag subscriptions through them. There are advantages and disadvantages. I’m happy not to get endless paper mags which pile up and eventually have to be dealt with. Even though recycling is just around the corner the magazines stay in the house far too long. If you click a link in a Zinio mag then the link is opened in a Webkit page inside Zinio like iAD the open link stays within the app like a link opens inside the Twitter app.

    In Zinio (I guess any mag app) the text is reduced to unreadable size when both pages are viewable and you have to tap or enlarge to read. Zinio has a little TEXT button that instead does what the READER button does in Safari, extracts out the text from the visual garbage on the page and lets you read just the text.

    All in all my limited experience with mags through Zinio is that I’d rather get my zines through Zinio than through the post. Will the future be different than the present… probably… Memory will improve (not mine unfortunately but the iPad’s), speeds will improve with faster processors, screen resolutions, etc will improve.

    I thought Vinh’s article was a bit over the top TBH. He’s right that for the current memory short iPad there is a certain amount of “bloat” which you experience when you go to do a backup with iTunes. It slows the back up down by orders of magnitude. Suppossidly Zinio has fixed this but I haven’t tried with the latest version. But his fundamental thesis that iPad mags run counter to how people expect to use their iPad… I don’t find that true for me. I’m more likely to look at mags on my iPad than buy a paper copy.

    I’m not a fan of Flipbook though I noticed Vinh thinks its more on target. I find Flipbook gimmicky and I hate that i can’t get rid of my facebook pages because fundamentally I dislike everything that Facebook stands for. Maybe his point is that nobody wants a whole mag anymore, just articles. Lots of luck with that. These media owners are well entrenched and the lessons they took from the music industry and Apple’s break out all the music into singles and sell for 99? has not convinced the media tycoons that this is the way forward.

    On the other hand, I find the need for any mag in the age of the Internet relatively limited. Foreign Affairs or professional journals supply in depth knowledge but too frequently mags like Wired (isn’t that where Vinh worked?) or Motley Fool or MacWorld, etc seem worthless to me, almost a paper copy of The Street where articles are cranked out to justify the advertising.

    One last point. The people I see on the tube reading mags are generally women looking through Cosmo or Elle or Marie Claire, etc. This seems almost entirely about looking at the clothes, makeup etc. For that the iPad seems better than paper. my 2?


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    Posted: 02 November 2010 05:08 PM #2

    I still can’t believe Apple allowed this app.


    Adversity does not just build character, it reveals it.

  • Posted: 02 November 2010 05:12 PM #3

    The magazine industry so far seems to believe that an iPad version warrants much higher pricing.  That issue alone has stopped me from getting anything but demo issues.  With non predatory pricing, I could see myself subscribing to a few magazines on the iPad.  But with things as they are now, pricing has killed the concept for me.

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    Posted: 12 July 2012 09:30 AM #4

    mbeauch - 02 November 2010 08:08 PM

    I still can’t believe Apple allowed this app.


    I think that is an iPad version - edited for content.

    On the original topic:

    Time entered the scene a couple of weeks ago with some compelling pricing. 2.99 a month gets you four issues and 29.99 a year gets you the whole 52!

    Nat Geo is only 1.99 a month as well.