Thursday, August 19, 2010

People magazine releases slow downloading iPad app; once downloaded, though, this app is state-of-the-art

I will admit that People magazine is not my cup of tea, but a new app from Time Inc. is certainly worth looking at in detail -- especially since the other media websites don't seem to download and actually look at the apps they post about.

So I went into iTunes and dutifully downloaded the free iPad app from People. Once installed individual issues will set you back $3.99 per edition. Time Inc. can be pretty much guaranteed that they will receive the same level of vitriol about charging newsstand prices for an electronic product as they have for their other media apps.
The People magazine app, however, does give a bit of love to existing print subscribers, however. Inside the app current subscribers are allowed to sign in and view their issues at no additional cost.

{As an aside, let me add that this situation -- where print subscribers can read their issues for free through an app -- is the reason I think charging a minimal fee for the app is a good idea. Yes, it is a double charge, but iPad owners don't see a 99 cent or $1.99 charge as excessive.}

As a non-subscriber, though, I needed to buy that single issue. Luckily, I have teenage daughters that have on rare occasion purchased a copy of People magazine, so the $3.99 cost might result in actual readership.
But this is where the reader experience went south in a hurry. My iPad processed the purchase with no problem and the issue began its download.

Now being used to purchasing issues like this through using the Zinio newsstand app, I would expected my issue to be available within a minute or two, max.

No. The download time for an issue of People far exceeds the time to takes to read an entire issue. It is painful in the extreme. A half hour later my paid copy of the August 30th edition of People was finally available.

The pain that the reader must endure to actually use this app can, of course, be eliminated with additional bandwidth or server speed on Time's side of the equation. If they do this, readers will find that their issues of People for the iPad are a vastly superior experience to the print edition. In other words, the wait is worth it (I suppose).

OK, let's not even discuss the editorial contents of this magazine -- I am not, nor ever have been the target audience for People. But after being bombarded with weeks of GZM stories I would think that sitting down with this iPad magazine would be a relief.

Not all publishers will have access to all the video and other artwork at the disposal of the editors at People, but they use this added content to great effect. Further, the navigation used for this app is state-of-the-art. Every publisher and editor looking to see what others are doing should go here first.

Finally, advertising: again, the staff has done its work, with ads that have both portrait and landscape designs, as well as added multimedia content.

Left: If you can sit through the download times, eventually you will be rewarded with an actual issue to read -- and your iTunes account will be dinged $3.99.
Middle: What did you expect. glamour shots of Paul Krugman walking around Princeton with his iPad?
Right: Applause for the ad and production staffs as they got their clients to provide portrait and landscape creative and added video, as well.

My guess is that this app from Time Inc. will get both five-star and one-star reviews in iTunes. The pricing model of charging newsstand prices for iPad app just rubs some people the wrong way. But if a print magazine were no longer available on the newsstand would they feel the say way? I doubt it.

Besides, this version of the magazine is a superior experience to print in so many ways that it is hard to argue about the pricing -- especially when print subscribers will have access to this at no additional cost.

While finishing up this look at the new People iPad app my e-mail in-box sang a little song indicating that I had new mail. There, unusually, was a promotional message from Apple.

Apple does a good job of not spamming its customers -- thank God. With the number of Mac products, iPhones, iPads and iTunes accounts that exist in my household it would get really ugly with Apple were a spammer.

But this promotional e-mail highlighted apps to buy in iTunes and I immediately expected to see a push for the new People magazine app. But this kind of coordination does not exist right now. Part of the reason may simply be that no one seems to know when their app will be approved, making promotion very hard to schedule.

This particular promotional e-mail contained information on only one app -- Sonic Mule's Glee app -- and two accessories. It turns out that I already own two of the three items in the promotional e-mail, showing, I suppose, that Apple is not digging too deeply into its information archives.

1 Comment:

Anonymous said...

You are lucky. I downloaded this as a gift to my wife, it's her iPad and I borrowed it to download this for her, so she can get into "eReading" a bit more.
I purchased the issue around 12:30PM, it's 4:06 PM and the thing has not even gone thru 1/4 of the download.

Maybe is the interest on the Tiger's ex issue, but I dont think so.