iPad Magazines: a predictable publisher road-crash

iPad Newsstand

David Jacobs of 29th Street Publishing talking about magazine apps:

What we have learned is that the replica will never be successful. Consumers have soundly rejected them: digital subscriptions make up only 3% of total subscriptions. But I am of course optimistic about the future of magazine apps, since the industry has an opportunity for a reboot. There is a challenge (and an opportunity) since the mainstream conception of a magazine app is what amounts to a photo gallery of pages of a magazine, with the occasional widget or animation. But that’s not a transformation that is going to happen overnight.

Why did it all go so wrong? Joe Zeff of Joe Zeff Design, an app studio, is direct:

It’s easy to blame Adobe DPS for the spate of lookalike magazines; instead, I blame the publishers. They blindly followed AAM née ABC guidelines and created digital magazines that were hardly different from print. They prioritized customer retention over customer acquisition and focused on rate base expansion instead of new product development. They have failed to excite advertisers, blaming weak CPM numbers that could be strengthened by aggregating audiences through networks.

In short, rather than prioritising creating greta customer experiences, the magazine industry prioritised protecting its own business model and workflows - with appalling results.

The whole iPad Magazine roundtable at Newmanology is well worth a read - as it gets right to the heart of the challenges and opportunities of this format.