Three months after the introduction of the Apple's iPad into the media world some of the best work for the world's first media consumption tablet is coming from the marketing world -- not media companies or commercial developers.
A month ago the Amsterdam based marketing and custom publishing firm Rhbm developed an iPad magazine for Volkswagen called Das that was far more interactive and just plain interesting than most of the media efforts then appearing in the iTunes app store.
Since the launch of Das we've seen apps for Wired and other magazines appear -- each moving the medium incrementally forward, but each failing to live up to the hype their publishers had generated when they announced their projects.
In the meantime, commercial developers continue to attract media clients and fill up the iTunes store with their apps. Some, like those from BlueToad, are solid though simple flipbook-type apps that get the product on the iPad, though add very little to the print experience. Others are simply crash prone messes that reflect badly on the publishers who chose to go the easy route and outsource their magazines to these commercial developers.
← Adeyaka contains interactive ads such as this one containing video.
So it is a joy to open up an app like this one from the European division of Infiniti, Adeyaka. Adeyaka is the official magazine of the auto manufacturer and its print and website versions are available online in English, French, German, Italian, Spanish and Russian. The app is free and currently only available in English in iTunes store. (A quick look at the French iTunes app store shows only the English version available at this time.)
The digital magazine is a product of Infiniti and köckritzdörrich GmbH out of Reutlingen, Germany. Programming is credited to sophistes, a Munich based company that also develops iPhone applications.
Christian Westenhöfer from köckritzdörrich is listed both as the Publishing Manager and the person behind advertising sales. If I had to guess, I would think this means that the project was treated as a custom publishing venture where Infiniti is sold on the idea and the custom publisher shepherds the project through the creative, programming and advertising sales process. (I can not determine if ad sales and this project is managed separately from the print product.)
From Infiniti's side, Andreas Sigl is credited with the title of Creative and Editorial Direction, while Lutz Suendermann is credited with being the Executive Creative Director for the magazine.
Press Release: „Mit dem Erscheinen des iPad haben wir zum ersten Mal die Möglichkeit, die Vorteile eines Print-Magazins mit der Erlebnistiefe bewegter Bilder zu verbinden, ohne dass der Nutzer dazu wie bisher vom Print-Medium zu einer Online-Version im Internet wechseln muss“, so Berthold Dörrich, geschäftsführender Gesellschafter von köckritzdörrich.
Rough Google translation: "With the release of the iPad, we have for the first time the possibility that to combine the advantages of a print magazine with the depth of experience of moving images, without the user's how far by the print media to an online version in the Internet has to change, "said Berthold Dörrich, Managing Partner of köckritzdörrich.
By thinking digital from the beginning, and then reprogramming the magazine for the iPad, the magazine app feels more native to the tablet medium, using the digital tools available to the developer without simply being eye candy.
The app, like the Wired app, requires a big download -- in this case, 455 MB. But the download allows the reader to have access to all the content without requiring an Internet connection. The app is the equivalent of 172 pages of magazine content, with around 30 videos and over 200 hi-res photos. There are animations inside the magazine and the app utilizes both portrait and landscape layouts -- though I will say that I preferred the landscape mode more because of the embedded video.
The only criticism I have of the app is that sometimes the type is rendered too small within photo layouts, and because the app does not allow you to zoom in and out using multitouch gestures (strange) it is a bit hard to read these rare layouts. Swiping is smooth, however, as is scrolling. (Unfortunately, some developers who have launch multiple media apps are still not producing apps with smooth navigation.)
The app developer, of course, takes advantage of the fact that it is being produced for marketing purposes and therefore are not under the same deadline constraints that a monthly (or weekly) publication would be under.
The result is that the print, web and iPad versions of Adeyaka are all unique products. Going to the website you are brought into the Flash driven vehicle that looks great but doesn't provide the same leisure-time reading experience that both print and tablets can provide (nonetheless, the work is clearly outstanding).
The website also gives you access to a flipbook version of the print magazine, which is distributed at Infiniti dealers in Europe. For most publishers, especially in the U.S., bringing in a commercial developer to create a flipbook it the beginning and end of their digital media efforts. Once the flipbook is created the next question the publisher asks the developer is "how do we get the flipbook into iTunes so readers can have it on their iPads?"
But here we have Adeyaka available in three different formats: print, web, and tablet. Each format is considered on its own, each is best viewed on its proper device.
While publishers of print magazines may be hard pressed to create new products specifically for the iPad in a deadline driven environment, simply porting over their print products using a commercial developer will give the publisher predictable results. Just read the reviews in iTunes to see what readers think -- they are not impressed with these simple conversion products.
While some of the early apps from Condé Nast may have disappointed some iPad owners (I actually think they are pretty good first time efforts) this app from the team of Infiniti, köckritzdörrich and sophistes is a major step in the right direction.