Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Replica mags not the only way to go, publishers find; device-appropriate applications the thing

Publishers are developing app strategies that better suit both the nature of their audiences and the devices on which the apps are being delivered. As a result many are determining that the "flip book" or "replica" magazines may not be the way of the future. According to a story published by eMedia Vitals, while everyone is very low on the curve at the moment, they are starting to sort out what works best, where and how.
One thing they quickly figured out: Smartphones offer a much different user experience than larger-screen tablet devices. Smartphones are very much utility-driven, with users often looking for specific information to help them complete an activity. Early research on tablets points to a "lean-back reading experience" that equates more with traditional magazine reading than with the task-driven Web.
“We look at each product as native to each device we’re going to use,” said Jerry Steinbrink, vice president of publishing for Consumer’s Union, the publisher of Consumer Reports, which recently released its new Mobile Shopper iPhone app and is developing additional apps for the iPhone, iPad and Android environments. “We work very hard not to deliver a magazine-like experience in something that isn’t a magazine.”
By using consumer research, publishers (mostly in the U.S.) are sounding out what readers expect of a new app. And the article gives examples of three different categories of "non-magazine" magazine apps, ranging in price from 99 cents to $9.99:
  • Utility -- standalone consumer experiences related to shopping, cooking, travelling and so on. Examples include Mobile Shopper (Consumer Reports), Gourmet Live (Conde Nast), Cosmo’s Sex Position of the Day (Hearst), Shape Flat Abs (Rodale), Golf Digest Tips (Conde Nast), Time Out New York.
  • Special issues -- usually based on extensive publisher archives of photos or articles. Examples include Life’s Wonders of the World Photography Book, Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Songs of All Time, GQ’s Men of the Year, Golf Digest’s Hot List, Popular Science’s Tech Buyers’ Guide
  • Feeds -- apps that pull RSS feeds from websites and feature breaking news, video etc. They are generally free and examples include  Atlantic Wire, Sporting News, EW’s Must List, SI.com

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