Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Bonnier updates many of its apps, but they remain disappointing tablet editions even after the updates

It's pretty hard to figure out what is going on at Bonnier – they are both way ahead of others when it comes to their tablet editions, but mostly way behind. The company that was behind Mag+ – before spinning it out – continues to update its magazine apps, but most remain replica editions that present readers with no real reason to dump their print editions (and maybe that is the point).

Bonnier updated its apps for Working Mother Magazine, WaterSkiMag, Yachting Mag, TransWorld WAKEBOARD, Sport Fishing Mag, Snow Mag, Spa Mag, Ski Mag, Skiiing Mag, and Scuba Diving today. But though each update promises the same thing – "fullscreen video playback and other HTML5 enhancements" – I didn't really see much different in the apps I downloaded. It is likely that the app updates only tweak the software so that these features are possible should the editors decide to incorporate them.

Readers are not very happy with the Bonnier apps, in general, mainly because they continue to force print readers to buy the digital versions if they want to access the magazines on their iPad. It is a policy that, I bet, is driven by the circulation department and, frankly, speaks to a lack of management vision at the company.

This conclusion is hard to deal with knowing that Bonnier also produces one of the better tablet editions for its Popular Science magazine. That magazine uses the Mag+ digital publishing solution, as signified by the app's name, PopularScience+. That the other Bonnier titles haven't copied Popular Science, or moved beyond it (which is what is expected Saveur to do), remains a mystery.