Magazines on iPad, How Important Is an App?

Discussion in 'iPad General Discussions' started by AutoTraveler, Apr 16, 2011.

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How essential is it for Automotive Traveler Magazine to offer an iPad app?

Poll closed Jul 25, 2011.
  1. Totally essential

    0 vote(s)
    0.0%
  2. Very essential

    44.4%
  3. Somewhat essential

    0 vote(s)
    0.0%
  4. Not essential

    55.6%
  1. AutoTraveler

    AutoTraveler iPF Novice

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    Hi everyone, my name is Rich Truesdell and I am the owner of a new iPad 2 16GB WiFi. (It's the first Apple product for me.) I am also the founder and editor of an online-only magazine called Automotive Traveler, which as the title suggests is about cars, travel, and great road trips.

    Our magazine is browser-based rather than app-based. We've developed a universal viewer that works inside your browser to view each issue which is stored on our server, like a web page, but different.

    The difference is that each page is an actual magazine-style layout so it is fixed. Each page in Automotive Traveler Magazine and on AutomotiveTraveler.com is laid out like a double-page spread in a magazine (horizontally/landscape-style). The size of the font used in the layout is selected so that on devices with screens eight inches and up, you should be able "read" the entire "page" without the need zoom or scroll. If this seems hard to understand, just click here.

    (I believe that our presentation is enhanced by viewing Automotive Traveler using a full-screen browser. The first thing I did after setting up my iPad 2 was to install the full-screen browser Terra.),

    Right now we're trying to determine if we need to develop a dedicated app to reach a wider audience. Right now we have almost 50,000 unique visitors to the magazine and its companion website each month but based on our analysis, less than one percent are using an iPad as opposed to almost four percent viewing on an iPhone.The rest are viewing the content on netbooks, laptops, and desktops with less than 10 percent using Apple operating systems (but that percentage is growing which is one of the main reasons for this post).

    Right now we're finalizing the next issue that will publish on Wednesday but are already deep in planning the following issue that will publish in May as we ramp up to a monthly publishing schedule. I'm writing to get feedback from iPad owners and suggestions as to how we can improve our presentation and to determine from iPad owners the need to develop a dedicated app.

    I'd like to use something already developed, off the shelf, instead of having to develop one from scratch. I like things simple so what I am looking for is a solution that will offer me an optimized full-screen presentation that will allow a swipe function while allowing me to embed active links, and to be able to open separate video windows. Is anyone aware of an existing solution that you think might work for us. (I am open to hearing pitches from iPad app developers out there reading this.)

    Because we plan to remain a free publication that ultimately will be fully supported by advertising, we're staying clear of the battle between Apple and the big publishing houses over subscription revenue and subscriber data. With that being said, what are the thoughts here of having a free app and a 99 cent per issue price for a paid version? I see many magazines doing this.

    While I look at the short-term situation with more than 10 million iPads sold here in the US, I'm looking at the bigger picture, long-term, when there will be an installed base of more than 50 million tablets (iPads as well as competitors) and what we need to do to reach a meaningful number of readers to not only be attractive to the advertisers that we need to support us, but essential to their overall marketing plans.

    I hope that many of you will take a few minutes to view the current issue of Automotive Traveler as well as the six previously published issues. If you like the content, please let me know. If there's something that you think we should be covering, I want to know that as well. If there's areas for us to improve -- I know that we're at the beginning of the process and our success long term will be driven by our readers -- please, give me your comments.

    To make things easier, I have included a poll below and I hope that you will participate after taking a look at Automotive Traveler. If you would like to make contributions to Automotive Traveler, in either the car or travel categories, please contact me directly via E-mail. I love working with new or aspiring writers and I hope that you'll agree that after viewing Automotive Traveler, that it is content that stands apart and above our online competitors, that it is much more like reading a "real" magazine than just another website or blog.

    Have a great weekend,

    Richard Truesdell
    Co-Founder and Editorial Director, Automotive Traveler Magazine, AutomotiveTraveler.com
    E-mail
     
    Last edited: Apr 16, 2011
  2. NumbLock

    NumbLock iPad Ninja

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    Very, but I didn't write totally because, let's face it, the success of your company isn't 100% reliant on the app.

    That said, I am a heavy consumer of Magazine apps, and the usability of the app is as important as the content. Wired magazine does it right, GQ does it wrong. And if your thinking of making it work like a PDF of a normal print magazine, better just forget the project entirely.
     
  3. Mountainbikermark

    Mountainbikermark iPad Addict

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    It's all about the future not just the present. Apps are the future for both revenue and name recognition. If I have a choice between a website and an app I choose an app because they are made for my device and work within the parameters of my device. If I have a choice between am online book or magazine and an app for the title,I choose apps. I use my Kindle app for most of my reading now because Kindle works the same , very well, on my Ipad or my Android phone. I play many server based games on apps because again they are made for my device and work on it.

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  4. gforeman

    gforeman iPF Novice

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    I read a lot of mags with Zinio. Quite happy.
     
  5. AutoTraveler

    AutoTraveler iPF Novice

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    Thanks for the initial feedback. I would like to say a few things in the hope that the discussion moves forward.

    First, I look at this from the content creation side first, then how easy (and universal) it is to read/view the content.

    To Numblock, what we are doing is so much more than a PDF, I was hoping that you saw that. We have designed the content from the ground up to be viewed with a computer or on a tablet in a landscape mode and provide a fully integrated reading experience without the need to zoom and scroll like how you read a magazine.

    If you take content that was produced for a conventional magazine, and view it in a viewer like Zinio, it's impossible to read it without zooming and scrolling. That's a fundamental difference in what we are doing with Automotive Traveler. We've designed the content, from the start, for the medium be it a tablet, laptop, or home computer screen that are horizontally oriented. This seems to be the issue that we aren't communicating efficiently.

    Quite honestly I don't see the obsession with having to have an app. And from the publisher side, having to develop an app for at a minimum two platforms, iPad as well as Android, is expensive, especially for a small, specialized, or boutique publisher. But that's why I came in here and am asking questions and gathering feedback.

    The other issue I have is the size of the apps. This would seem to me to be an issue at some point given that the storage capacity of an iPad isn't unlimited or expandable.

    This is a learning experienceand I appreciate the feedback. From what I can see, for some the messenger (the app) is more important than the message (the content).

    I am also looking at this pragmatically. When the Wired app first appeared, there were 100,000+ downloads of the current issue. Now, almost a year later, it's more like 25,000 for each month's issue, a 75% drop. Part of this is attributed to price (the monthly app is $3.99 an issue while a print subscription for a year is $10 delivered to your mailbox) but part of me thinks that in an effort to incorporate all the bells and whistles, the app gets in the way of the content. (Spoken like a true content creator/writer/journalist.)

    I'm interested in everyone's thoughts, especially suggestions of other magazines that you feel are doing it right.

    Have a great weekend,

    Richard Truesdell
    Co-Founder and Editorial Director, Automotive Traveler Magazine, AutomotiveTraveler.com
    E-mail
     
  6. autumnbaby

    autumnbaby iPF Novice

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    I prefer an app with my wifi only ipad.

    With apps I'm able to download the magazine issue right onto my ipad while at home and then read the issue later even if I'm in an area that does not have a wifi connection.

    If it was browser based only, I would be stuck with reading while around a wifi connection and I wouldn't be able to read it on an airplane or while traveling in my car. This would annoy me to the point that I probably wouldn't bother reading the magazine at all.
     
  7. Mountainbikermark

    Mountainbikermark iPad Addict

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    The future is apps. You can server base the content but again apps are the future.
    Why not have both ? I prefer apps because I'm not limited to my browsers abilities or at the mercy of the website. My best example is Redbox. The website is horrid and slow if it works at all vs the app which I'm in and out of quickly. Walgreens would be another. I can't really give examples of online books or magazines because I don't subscribe to them anymore, the last one I subscribed to, Forgotten, was on my Windows phone.

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  8. AutoTraveler

    AutoTraveler iPF Novice

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    The last two responses (Mountainbikermark and autumbaby) point out the shortcomings of a server-side approach. I personally don't worry about it even though I have a WiFi-only iPad 2 because I also have a Nexus One Android phone with an all you can eat voice/data/text plan on T-Mobile.

    If I'm in an area with no WiFi, I access the web on my iPad using the Nexus One as a WiFi hotspot. On a plane, I'll pony up for GoGo on a long flight as I'll almost always have work to do and will need access for my laptop. I haven't yet traveled on a plane with my iPad 2.

    Have a great weekend,

    Richard Truesdell
    Co-Founder and Editorial Director, Automotive Traveler Magazine, AutomotiveTraveler.com
    E-mail
     
  9. Mountainbikermark

    Mountainbikermark iPad Addict

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    Maybe it's me but it sounds like you are trying to talk yourself out of developing an app.

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  10. AutoTraveler

    AutoTraveler iPF Novice

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    Mark, that's not entirely true. Even the big publishing houses haven't figured this out yet with Wired being a good example. As others have pointed out, having the content residing on the iPad is an advantage, it is offset being able to access the content on any device and it not taking up valuable memory.

    What about if we made a off-line viewer available, so the content would be available even if no wireless connection was available? Would that address your issues?

    Richard Truesdell
    Co-Founder and Editorial Director, Automotive Traveler Magazine, AutomotiveTraveler.com
    E-mail
     
  11. Martlet

    Martlet iPF Novice

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    I got that as well.

    I didn't care much for your layout. I'm also not a huge fan of Zinio. I much prefer a Flipboard or Zite style app. You can touch and expand articles, pictures, etc. A magazine in that style would be an easy buy for me, providing I had an interest in the content.
     
  12. Mountainbikermark

    Mountainbikermark iPad Addict

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    Think Google maps on Android. You can view via live feed or if you know you will be away from signal of any sort you can download the content in advance for later viewing.
    Tablets are in their newbie period now, but again the present and future is apps. When the iPhone first came out it changed the way we do things on our phones. The tablet is changing the way we mobile compute. Again, nothing wrong with the present method but don't dismiss the possible revenue enhancement an app would provide. In under 5 years the mobile phone world as we knew it is gone. I see the same future for mobile computing, probably in less time if sales of the ipad2 are any indication and the fact that Moto was so afraid of the iPad they released a, well that's another topic for another day , but never the less websites are the present for their reasons whereas as the tablet world expands so will the memory storage, speed and abilities. Heck my children's iPods were top of the line when they came out with a whopping 8 gig of memory, a few years later that is the very bottom of capacity. The iPad 2 has double the ram of the one just 1 year prior. Memory storage may be an issue now but it won't be in another year I bet.


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  13. NumbLock

    NumbLock iPad Ninja

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    Excellent!

    But I don't agree with this 100%. I see the app as equal to the content. The advantage of getting the app right, is you should only have to do it once, nail it, then focus on what you love to do - creat great content!

    For me, a crappy app makes great content less enjoyable - or even not enjoyable at all.
     
  14. NumbLock

    NumbLock iPad Ninja

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    Download Wired, it's free this month (sponsored by Adobe) to see how to get it right.
     
  15. Mountainbikermark

    Mountainbikermark iPad Addict

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    Get the app right, the rest takes care of itself


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