Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Hoodgrown Magazine relaunches as an tablet magazine, complete with video, audio and a sense of adventure

It took awhile, but I was finally able to download the first issue of Hoodgrown, the tablet magazine from Christopher English -- ah um, I mean Chris "Cartel" English. Better known around these parts by his commenter name Tablazines. Mr. English has been a frequent commenter here, which I very much appreciate.

Hoodgrown is an ad supported tablet magazine, free to download in iTunes. And while readers are discovering that it takes a long time to download issues, once the app is installed the app itself has lots to offer lovers of "urban music".
(English's editor's column points out that the original tagline of the print magazine was "A Different Kind of Hip Hop Magazine" -- the new tagline of the tablet magazine is "The Magazine of Urban Music & Lifestyles".)

Hoodgrown Magazine was started in 2004 and only lasted three issues. The introduction of the iPad appears to a good opportunity to relaunch the magazine into a market that until now has been a bit nerdy and stale. Welcome back Hoodgrown.

Hoodgrown is not the product of some corporate entity -- you know that right away just looking at the app description. The name of the damn magazine is both Hoodgrown and Hood Grown. The Editor's Column proudly blares out "Damn, I'm Da Man". Good, it's about time we got some tablet magazines with some attitude. Let's dig in.
The app itself was developed with the help of Alligator Digital Magazines. English, that is Tablazines, commented on that story "Thanks to this site we will now be utlizing Alligator Digital Magazines for our iPad Publications!" and adding "Of course you'll be the first to know when we launch." I gotta tell you, that feels good.

The app can be a bit sluggish at times when in landscape mode, but I noticed no major problems such as crashing. The magazine app has what you'd want from a music magazine: lots of video and audio, as well as a little bit of animation. As mentioned, it works in both portrait and landscape modes, which I really think is vital for most magazine apps.

What it doesn't have it doesn't really need. All that social network article sharing is hot right now, but is it really necessary?

You can tell that this tablet magazine is not "native" -- that is, was created as a tablet publication without any history of print editions. The layouts feel like print which will make most readers feel comfortable. I am not convinced that the magazine form is dead, so there is no need to completely reinvent the form -- though I know a few people who feel otherwise.

Left: Instructions for navigating the magazine app; Middle: an ad! Yep, this is an ad-driven publication; Right: The Chris "Cartel" English's editor's column.

Although Hoodgrown is not produced by a big media company you'd be mistaken if you thought this was an amateurish effort. The magazine has a good website that is supporting the iPad magazine. Just as important as selling the magazine itself, Hoodgrown is selling the whole platform, offering potential advertisers reasons why they should advertise on an iPad publication. Look at this page, how many publishers are promoting the platform like this?

And Tablazines is backing up the whole effort with a media kit and contacts for two sales reps. It warms my heart, it really does.

Released only yesterday, this app hasn't gotten a ton of attention inside the iTunes App Store yet -- it's the holiday season and people are busy. But I hope Apple gives this app some promotion in the 'News & Newsworthy' area. This app probably shouldn't be in the News category -- Entertainment or Lifestyle might be better -- but it deserves a bit of promotion. Take a look yourself.

In case you missed it yesterday, here the promotional video for Homegrown: