For the past two weeks, since posting this first story about aside magazine, the German HTML5 based online 'magazine', I have been haunted by a question concerning the poor user experience I reported: was it the result of using a first generation iPad?
I can report that it was most definitely inherent in the product itself and the performance I experience was in no one influenced by my broadband connection or my first generation iPad.
Using both a new generation iPad, at different locations, with different connections I experienced the same stuttering and jerkiness that I reported in the video demonstration I made two weeks ago (which you can see in my amateurish video below):
To recap: aside magazine "works", that is you can read it, and the in-magazine animation and content is viewable. It is just not a great user experience when compared to natively designed iOS tablet editions.
This raises the question that we hope will be answered soon: will Onswipe's digital publishing solution see similar results, or is there something that can be done on the programming side to make the reading experience better? We'll probably find out on June 21 when Onswipe holds their launch event – unless we get those canned videos that some companies like to use to avoid showing a live demonstration. There will be a lot riding on that launch event, no doubt.
But I think publishers who are dreaming of HTML5 publishing should sit back a bit and ask themselves a couple of questions: first, how are their online products doing now compared to print? and how will they monetize an HTML5 magazine any differently than they would a natively designed app magazine?
The advocates of web-based publishing often forget that most print publishers are not exactly raking it in online right now. That is why a tablet magazine, with its closed environment, is actually more like print because print publishers are generally better at selling products than they are access.
Is Verizon the new Best Buy?
Years ago, when Best Buy first started selling Macs, the buying experience was so poor that it was all but certain that Best Buy was simply using the presence of Macs to sell higher end PCs. The sales staffs were uneducated on the Mac OS, gave potential buyers truly bad information, and did they best to turn people off to anything Apple.
Today I believe the situation seems better at most Best Buy locations I visit. While sales people still tend to gather around the PC area to draw in customers, most sales staff I encounter don't intentional try and stir people away.
(Though they still don't properly answer the question posed by many customers properly: Question: what programs can you run on a PC that you won't be able to on a Mac? Answer: none, after all, you can always install Windows on your Mac if you want.)
Today I once again encountered a Verizon sales rep who intentional tried to stir me away from an iPad. This has, as you can tell, happened before. This time the person launched into a speech about how I should buy a Motorola XOOM because it can be upgraded to 4G at some point.
I played along: OK, I said, what about apps? The Verizon staffer said that the apps will come eventually.
So I should buy a tablet that one day will be able to upgraded to 4G and that one day will have more tablet apps instead of an iPad which will run on the same 3G network as the XOOM but already has access to natively developed tablet apps?
The sales person then admitted that they were just "doing their job" directing me to the XOOM.
Interesting. If Verizon is intentionally trying to move XOOMs at the expense of iPads, then the sales numbers that already are skewing heavily for the iPad would be even more lopsided if one of Apple's partners weren't intentionally trying to support a competitor (at least in the Chicago area).