iPad Magazines: Not Beating The Web

Adam Tinworth
Adam Tinworth
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I have a “the problem with iPad magazine apps” post brewing within me, but I have a bit more research and a post on “why the iPad ain’t a blogging workstation…yet” post to do first. In the meantime, there’s a couple of other posts on the subject well worth a read. 
Monday Note has a great analysis of the [current state-of-the-art for iPad magazine apps](http://www.mondaynote.com/2010/06/13/ipad-media-apps-can-do-better/) (and I use the phrase state-of-the-art with a significant number of caveats, there):
> So, that’s the first idea: simply browsing the web through Safari appears to seriously challenge publishers’ efforts to create good applications. > That could explain why many apps appear stuck in two weird modes. The first one involves encapsulating the web experience into an app, and coming up with a design closer to the original paper. For the second mode, newspapers and magazines choose to replicate the carbon-based reading experience on the iPad with PDF-based reading applications. Not exactly a great leap forward either.
That’s certainly the biggest challenge for the app-based model. The web looks great on an iPad. Blogs, in particular, work brilliantly. The good, ol’ fashioned reverse chronological flow is an almost perfect format for touch browsing. I’ve done more blog reading since I picked up my iPad than I have done in months. Possibly years, in fact. 
David Cushman of Faster Future cautions that [apps could be leading publishers down a blind alley](http://fasterfuture.blogspot.com/2010/06/are-ipad-and-iphone-leading-publishers.html):
> Too many traditional news vendors, it seems to me, see Apple’s open hand as a way of reformatting/repackaging exactly what they’ve already done on the assumption that the reason we have been buying less newsprint is because it wasn’t available in a beautiful digital format. > > That doesn’t make sense to me. I don’t sit on the train each morning pining for a copy of the Guardian to read. I get on with participation and interacting with other people discussing stuff that’s way more relevant to me than the vast majority of stuff in ANY newspaper. 

While I agree with the broad sentiment here, there is a problem with the specific example given – trains are the one place where I can’t guarantee an internet connection, even with my 3G iPad. I’ve worked around this mostly through the use of Instapaper to save those posts I want to consume at length, and have available offline for the train. Only one of the articles currently in my Instapaper account come from traditional media, though.

I suspect the underlying message to these posts is this: publishers need to come up with a compelling app experience that beats out the web experience if they want customers to pony up for apps. Offline access might be part of that, but it’s far from enough on its own. 
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appsinstapaperiPadmagazine publishingmagazinesmonetisationpublishers

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Adam is a lecturer, trainer and writer. He's been a blogger for over 20 years, and a journalist for more than 30. He lectures on audience strategy and engagement at City, University of London.