Thursday, November 17, 2011

Cygnus Business Media launches first tablet edition for Firehouse Magazine; B2B app lacks Newsstand support

Cygnus Business Media continues to be one of the few B2B media firms in the U.S. launching tablet editions for their properties. The company currently has four apps available for the iPad, and one mobile app in support of its Firehouse Expo (an event held in Baltimore earlier this summer).
The newest app, released on November 14, is Firehouse Magazine. Firehouse is a monthly controlled circulation trade magazine with a BPA audit showing a little more than 83,000 in circulation. The magazine has long been an important title for Cygnus.

The new app is free to download and creates a library where readers can download the issues. As of today the sole issue available to download is November. That issue weighs in at 243 MB due not so much to lots of rich media but to having layouts in both portrait and landscape.

The tablet edition for Firehouse does not try and duplicate the advertising from the magazine, instead it is sponsored by Rosenbauer and Firehouse Software. This approach is best, in my opinion, as it limits the amount of artwork needed and provides prototype issues that later can be sold by the staff – sort of like a print magazine launch.

"The Firehouse iPad App is the perfect platform to extend and tailor the Firehouse brand for a new audience of iPad readers," Patty Maroder, Publisher of Firehouse, said in the company's announcement for the app. "In the coming months, we will be adding more content, including training videos, well as other important content pieces that you have come to expect from Firehouse."

Cygnus is one of the few mid-sized publishers that has embraced native app creation. The November issue utilizes the standard navigation strategy of scrolling to reach pages within an article and swiping to move from article to article (see below right).

On the page following the cover (see below left) readers are invited to register with the magazine inorder to be notified of upcoming issues. The app also has push notifications which can accomplish the same thing. The registration page is a mini-qualification form of sorts. Unlike print, where the publisher can reject a reader as being "unqualified" to receive the print magazine, this mechanism won't lead to rejections, but it will allow the publisher to know how many of its new tablet magazine readers would meet its qualification requirements.

The app does not have Newsstand support, though they could choose to go in this direction later. As I written before, one strategy that a B2B can employ is to include Newsstand support, but to charge a subscription fee. The magazine app can then allow current print or digital subscribers to log-in to use the app for free. These current subscribers would be your qualified readers.

This method is currently standard practice in print: qualified readers get the print magazine for free, while other readers can buy a subscription if the magazine doesn't consider them a qualified reader.