Wednesday, September 29, 2010

iGIZMO converts its Flash-based online magazine for the iPad; online-only pub feels more at home on a tablet

It is often the extremes that point the way. Take Balthaser Studio's old Flash site, you wouldn't use it to create the New York Times, but it certainly showed off what could be done with online technology.
That may be the way the new iGizmo iPad app might be looked at by other publishers. All the video and animation and eye candy does not make iGIZMO a great read, but it certainly is an interesting iPad app.

The iGIZMO Magazine app is free to download from iTunes. The app weighs in at 266 MB so you know all the content is there for offline reading. (The other way to do this is to create the shell app, then force readers to download the issues one at a time.)

If you are not familiar with iGIZMO, it is a UK-based tech magazine owned by Dennis Publishing, and until now, was entirely web-based. iGIZMO is one of those magazines that the Brits do very well, a veritable paradise for PR pros, what I used to call a shlock-fest, if you get my drift. But that's the content, let's look at the app.
Right off the bat the app includes an introductory video on the TOC page -- great idea and good place for it since there is no editor's page. But all this is in the website version -- except that the website is Flash-based. There is video galore in this magazine (and its app), though I will admit that much of it was pretty silly (and every time the word "screen" was pronounced "squeen" I had to chuckle).

Since this app pretty much duplicates the web edition what is the value of an iPad app? Well, for one thing, reading magazines on the web is pretty much a dead-end. Though there are tons of vendors out there pushing Flash-based flipbooks, I've never been an advocate of them -- the web reading experience is simply a different animal than print.

But tablet reading, e-reading if you will, is more of a leisure-time activity and so iGIZMO's magazine will find a more natural home on the iPad than online (imo, of course). So what this app shows is that all those bells and whistles that can be used online, such as video and animation, can be duplicated on the iPad, despite the lack of Flash. In fact, many of the things one finds in the online version are better in the app: swiping of pages, scrolling down to more content, full screen video, etc. If there were millions more iPads (or other tablets) out there I'd say dump the online version and create a different kind of website, then do the magazine exclusively for tablets. But we're not quite there, of course, so that will have to wait.

Below are a few more screenshots, and for the next few days or so you will find iGIZMO's promotional video at right and on the TNM YouTube Channel.

Left: Lot of video and animation can be found in both the online and tablet versions of iGIZMO; Middle: wow, nice car, and nice use of pinch-to-zoom;
Right: video, video, video, done in the same spirit as the Shopping Channel.