iPad Magazines: Long-Term Player or White Elephant? | By Sandra Cosser
Has the shine worn off iPad magazines so quickly that they could soon be lumped with other innovations that started off well only to become white elephants down the line?
After a banging start that saw sales for some iPad magazines top 100 000 per month, things have fizzled out so much that now the sales of some publications barely hit five figures.
There are a number of possible reasons for this, perhaps the most obvious one being that people really don’t want to pay for digital content. iPad magazines seemed like a much needed lifeline for print publications struggling to compete with online content providers.
Media houses would be able to reach the digital generation while still generating the finances needed to keep going. The problem is that people might be willing to pay a certain sum for something tangible but they certainly don’t want to pay the same for content that appears on a screen.
Up until recently, Apple refused to let publishers sell their digital magazines for less than the newsstand price. It was not a smart move. Especially considering Google is hot on its heels with plans for an Android-based digital newsstand that has several attractive features not provided by Apple, such as cheaper terms and access to client information.
Currently, details about the digital newsstand are vague and many people doubt that it will ever see the light of day, but given Google’s determination to beat Apple at everything, it seems reasonable to expect the IT giant to give it a proper try.
Meanwhile, Rupert Murdoch is pushing ahead with plans to release News Corp’s new digital magazine, The Daily, for the iPad on 19 January, 2011. Murdoch is not one to make silly investments and if he believes, as he does, that tablet devices will save publishing, then perhaps it’s too soon to write off iPad magazines.
Murdoch’s belief in paid-for digital magazines is supported by Conde Nast UK’s general manager, Albert Read, who had this to say about the apps: “It’s a punt. A long-term hope is that we create something exciting for readers and advertisers – and that brings its own returns over time. In five years we will have reaped those benefits.”
Futhermore, Richard Branson, who is no one’s fool, is still excited about his iPad magazine, Project. Can some of the greatest entrepreneurial minds of our time have got it horribly wrong? Is the iPad magazine doomed? Or are consumers simply slow to catch on?
As with so many things, only time will tell.
We write about magazine advertising costs for the leading resource for media, marketing and advertising professionals in South Africa, SARAD.