Friday, January 8, 2010

Zinio launches iPhone app; states it is striving for "ubiquitous" magazine reading platform

Digital publishing technology and distribution company Zinio announced that it had launched a free iPhone app (iTunes store link), and is currently offering two magazine samples to entice readers to use the service.

The move is a wise attempt to allow readers access to their favorite publications, regardless of the device they prefer to use. Zinio describes the move as the "cornerstone of its ubiquitous “Unity” reading platform."
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The easy to use application allows users to download their favorite consumer magazines (hey, where's the B2B?), assuming they are being distributed by Zinio, and read them just as they would an online flip book -- only easier, in my opinion, as the app does not require Flash.

Once the reader has selected the magazine, either the free samples currently available (Vivmag and PC Magazine) or purchased magazines, the reader is taken to a cover shot as seen at left and the app begins to download the rest of the file. The reader swipes to go to another page, a quicker and more natural motion that the corner click used on flip books.  The reader can zoom in using the usual iPhone multi-touch motions. A double tap will zoom you into the desired area, or zoom you back out. Unfortunately, Zinio zooms in a set amount, often too close. (iPhone users familiar with browsing on their phone will immediately compare the way zooming works magically with Safari versus the Zinio app. A tap of a story here often zooms you in closer to the story than you want.

Image and video hosting by TinyPicThe best features of the app are that you have the choice, by pressing a little symbol on the bottom of the screen, of viewing a story either as it appeared in print, or in a printer-like version, similar to the way stories appear on the New York Times or NPR News apps. You can also view get an indexed table of contents in this way, as seen below.

The issue of PC Magazine I downloaded contained no ads, which is a shame. There were also no built in links to either a vendor mentioned in a story, or worse, to PC Magazine's own subscription solicitation.

I assume this means that Zinio simply converted PC Magazine pages without the assistance of the publisher as I would think the inherent advantages of being able to link directly from a story would have been a must addition. As Apple has changed its policies concerning being able to buy goods directly from apps, I would think that both Zinio and the magazine publishers involved would want to customize their future Zinio versions to include links, videos (if this can be accomplished) and other interactive elements. If this can occur, Zinio will be providing a good one-shop stop for those trying to get their editions on the iPhone. Right now the only other option would be to build your own app.

Zinio is launching this app at a good time as the focus is firmly on moving magazines to mobile devices. The company appears committed to bringing their services to future mobile devices as it becomes clear the device will become a market leader.
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“While many publishers are battling digital distribution with a platform-by-platform approach, Zinio has announced ‘Unity’ for consumers to explore and enjoy reading digitally -- regardless of their device -- from anywhere in the world,” said Rich Maggiotto, President & CEO, Zinio in a release.

The initial release publications on the iPhone will include Automobile Magazine, Car and Driver, Chicago, Harper's Bazaar, iPhone Life, Marie Claire, Motor Trend, PC Magazine, Popular Mechanics, Popular Science, Redbook, SmartMoney, The Independent Guide to the iPhone 3GS, Town & Country, Transworld Motocross, Transworld Skateboarding, Vegetarian Times, VIVmag, Yoga Journal and others.  Zinio promises to release the rest of its catalog in due time.

Zinio has uploaded a video concerning its iPhone app which can be viewed here or on the Talking New Media YouTube Channel.