Thursday, July 12, 2012

IPC Media launches a set of newish tablet apps for its magazines for the North American market

I was asked this morning by someone involved in a magazine company which had just released its first tablet and mobile app editions into the App Store what I thought of their app. It was an awkward moment. "Well," I stammered, "I'm not a big fan of replica editions."

I then went on to say that for many companies, creating a native tablet edition may not be a good, or even reasonable, option. That they were able to get their magazine into the App Store at all was a good start, and I congratulated them on their milestone.

I try, really hard, to not be complete dogmatic about replicas – they have their place.

I remember seeing the magazine Decanter in the App Store for the first time. The app presented a standard, hard to read replica edition, but at least it was now available – at least that was how I felt at the time. The British wine magazine would be increasingly hard to find on newsstands if only because newsstands were closing everywhere around me thanks to the collapse of the Borders chain.

IPC Media, which is one of the largest (the largest?) consumer magazine publishers in the U.K., publishes Decanter – it has a long and interesting history which you can read about here. Today, it is owned by Time Inc.

Earlier today the company launched a series of new apps for many of its titles within the U.S. App Store. In addition to Decanter, the new apps include Yachting Monthly, Practical Boat Owner, Rugby World, World Soccer, Uncut, Country Life and NME.

But what looks like new apps really aren't.
In the case of Decanter, for instance, was is new is simply that their is a separate app for the North American market. The old app inside the U.S. was called Decanter Magazine International, which resided outside the Apple Newsstand. The new app, officially called Decanter Magazine North America. In the U.K. the app is simply called Decanter Magazine and other than having its issue and subscription prices in pounds I fail to see a difference.

So if you were looking for digital, natively designed tablet editions for some of your favorite IPC Media magazines, well you'll have to continue to wait. Further, the pricing continues to be rather outrageous. A single issue of Decanter costs $9.99. I guess to cost to ship all those ones and zeros across the pond remains pretty high. Meanwhile, the same issue in the U.K. App Store is £4.99 ($7.70).

It looks like someone is trying to protect their stateside distributors.