Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Readershouse Brand Media and Volkswagen to create 'Das', an innovative magazine for the iPad

The Amsterdam-based Readershouse Brand Media (Rhbm) has produced what it states is "the first European iPad magazine" for its client Volkswagen. The highly animated, video rich magazine, called Das, was released late Friday -- just in time for the iPad's launch in Europe and elsewhere.

Das, the iPad magazine for VW from
Dutch custom publisher Rhbm
. →

If the Telegraph's Shane Richmond (see below) and others wonder about the value of individual iPad apps for publishers Das is part of the answer.

Rhbm is a custom publisher that produces in-house and marketing materials for clients, mostly automotive firms. CEO Kees Beudeker is quoted as saying of the iPad (translation) "it will require time, but the iPad is a serious medium where your content can be directing and producing. It is an important part of the cross-media mix, alongside the Internet and paper."

For their first effort, Rhbm appeared to take a fresh look at the new medium, rather than ask 'how do we port over our existing material to the iPad?'. By taking a fresh look, they have come up with something that is very different than the Condé Nast efforts that have led the pack so far.

Like the initial Sports Illustrated tablet demo from late last year, Das, opens with video immediately. This then leads into a video of Stephan Grühsam, head of communications for Volkswagen who introduces the magazine.

An example of the use of animation in VM's iPad magazine, Das

Don't look for high-quality magazine content, this is a marketing piece. But it is a very useful demonstration piece for publishers who need to see something different in order to "get" the iPad's potential. Not only does the app contain lots of video and animate, it also tries to package the content in different ways.

Unless you are about to buy a new Volkswagen, I doubt iPad owners will be returning frequently to the app, but how often does one pick up promotional material once it has been read? This app will have some shelf-life as those who download it rediscover it on their tablets.

The app itself is a bit buggy. My version crashed upon launch, and crashed again later on. The app is so new that there are only a couple of comments posted in iTunes, two of which complain about the crashes. The other recommends restarting your iPad once the app has installed, then says "Now this is what a digital magazine should be."

I don't know about that, but the work from Rhbm is certainly impressive.

The section on sound is a bit trite, but contains some good ideas.

Das can be accused of using eye-candy the same way the SI video did, but like athletes, the best way to show a car is moving and this app can do that. More importantly, it does it at app launch, not just by offering the reader the chance to open a video window. While Rhbm may had the advantage of tailoring content to medium, as opposed to tailoring the medium to the content, Das does serve to give publishers (and their art directors and programmers) some real-world examples to which they can refer back when needed.

Finally, it is very hard to illustrate the elements of a truly interactive tablet magazine without creating video. Several videos have been uploaded to YouTube so far, but all appear to be pirated copies of the original video produced by Rhbm (see below).

The only other way to create video directly from the iPad (other than simply shooting video of the iPad while in action) is to jailbreak the iPad and then use a video-out cord to send the video to another display, where it is copied there. Not a good solution, if you ask me -- and besides, right now I see no reason to jailbreak my iPad.

So here is the Rhbm video which gives you some idea of Das magazine in action.