From an article today, April 12, 2012, on the website, Digiday, titled, Magazines Fumble the iPad Opportunity:
“I don’t think there’s anything magazine-like out there that’s really resonating or working,” said Khoi Vinh, former design director for The New York Times. “Ultimately, the concept of a magazine feels like an uncomfortable fit for this platform. It shouldn’t be a packaged slate of content; it’s an awkward fit for a connected device that can be up to the minute.”
The 12 readers of RexBlog know that from the first nano-second I saw a bigco magazine company’s attempt at something for the iPad (two years ago, on April, 10, 2010, to be precise), I was underwhelmed by the attempt and very disappointed in the disconnect between what big-time magazine publishers think the iPad is — and how iPads are actually used by their owners.
For example, I wonder why designers replicate design conventions made necessary by the limited real estate of the printed page (columns, for example) onto a device that can scroll infinitely.
Even back in 2010, I thought Khoi Vinh had the credibility and clout to express the opinions I shared but that often sounded like a raging rant when I expressed them. So I have typically pointed towards him when this topic resurfaces. It never stops amazing me that consumer magazine companies just don’t get iPads. (Khoi and I even appeared together once on the “Why don’t magazine publishers understand the iPad?” circuit.)
I’ll admit, however. I no longer care about the topic of what giant magazine companies (or startups) think the iPad is for. The iPad is for whatever people want it to be. If those companies want to produce things that a niche group of users want, then go ahead. I won’t complain. But I do agree with Khoi: It’s not a very good use of an iPad.
As they continue to repeat the same (in my opinioin) mistake over and over, the big magazine companies don’t appear to even care to comprehend that the iPad is something other than an magazine reader. From their highest profile efforts, that seems to be what they think.
Replicating a magazine into a digital form — and adding things like flipping pages — is, I’m guessing, a magical feat to some people. But check out the paid and free apps on the iTunes Store and you’ll see how far down such magazine replication apps appear on what users of iPads purchase or download. (Hint: You have to go far, far down.)
However, there are lots of magazine-loving people (hey, I’m one) who use the iPad to read and to express ourselves and to interact with others. And there are some of us who use an iPad to read so much that we wonder why the page-flipping metaphor is even there when the iPad has an accelerometer that could make page advancement as easy as tilting the device.
There are so many ways publishers could utilize their content and niche expertise to create innovative apps and products for the iPad and Kindle Fire and Android platforms. It’s unfortunate the deepest pockets in the room have thrown so much money away on trying to please themselves instead of actually trying to understand what the iPad is and where the real opportunities are.
Sidenote: I do like one iPad version of a magazine, the New Yorker, for three reasons: 1. It arrives 48 hours before the print version. 2. I provides the option of viewing all the cartoons in a gallery. 3. It typically includes audio versions of the poets reading their poems. I’ll confess, I’ve never read the poems in the New Yorker. Hearing a poet perform his or her work is an entirely different experience. That’s what iPad versions of magazines should be about. Doing something you can do better than — or not at all — in print.
From the RexBlog archives:
A review of the worst iPad magazine app ever: Virgin’s Project
One of the longest-ever posts on this blog, an interview with a young photographer-designer, who created an iPad magazine, Letter to Jane, that actually utilized the platform in a way that recognized how readers read and viewers view. (Although I’ll confess, I’m not in the target audience of the publication.)