Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Exact Editions Ltd. brings Publishers Weekly and other clients to the iPhone and iPad with universal apps

The recently sold magazine Publishers Weekly had its new iPad app debut inside iTunes on Tuesday and, unfortunately, my travels did not allow me to download it to take a look.

Publishers Weekly, if you recall, was one of the magazines sold by Reed Business Information as part of their recently completed major divestiture (or beating it out of town). A new company led by George Slowik Jr. has taken over the book, and now the mobile media offerings.
The app was developed by Exact Editions Ltd., a London-based company that creates the now traditional flipbooks, built from the PDFs provided by their publisher clients. Recently, though, they have been launching mobile apps for some of their clients. As of today they have a little over a dozen universal apps in the iTunes app store, and are rightly proud that they were able to have a number of apps available for download on April 3, the first day of iPad sales.

Back to Publishers Weekly: It is pretty ironic that the cover of the first tablet edition of Publishers Weekly would feature Random House's Chairman Markus Dohle. It was Dohle that announced in late March that Random House would not be in Apple's new iBookstore. Yet here he is, smiling out from the cover of a magazine being read on the iPad.

The app itself, being based on the PDFs, is pretty minimal. No additional content, other than embedded links, are in the first edition. The problem with links, of course, is that they take you out of the app and opens the Safari browser. Closing the browser only takes you home, forcing you to reopen the publication app again. This isn't the fault of the developer, of course, as neither the iPhone nor iPad allow multi-tasking -- well, not yet, anyway. This should be solved by the new iPhone OS to be introduced for the iPhone next month, and for the iPad in the Fall. We'll see.

Two examples of pages in the new iPad edition of Publishers Weekly.

Exact Editions launched their first iPhone app back in January. The app gives users access to a large selection of magazines for reading on their smartphones. Within a few months, though, they began launching individual apps. I think this is a trend you will see continue. In conversations with several developers you sense some frustration with publishers who are requesting their own branded apps. But frankly who can blame the publishers for demanding this?

It is clear that the company knows that it is going to have to move towards iPad development, and to their credit, they appear to be enthusiastic about tablets. This should mean being able to offer more features and capabilities to their publishing clients.