Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Bonnier releases new universal app for TransWorld Motocross, replica edition is a missed opportunity

When I think of all the magazine companies that have released tablet (and mobile) editions into the Apple App Store over the past two years it is hard to identify the one publisher you would be the most disappointed with, but Bonnier has to be at the top of anyone's list. Bonnier helped give us Mag+, after all, but then all but abandoned the idea of natively designed tablet editions after its own tech group released such nice examples.

The splash page
The problem with the replica editions being released by Bonnier is not so much that they are hard to read and unimaginative, though they are, it is that they represent a missed opportunity.

Many of the Bonnier titles are in incredibly good positions to create amazing products for the tablet. I'm thinking, for instance, about Saveur. The international food magazine certainly must be loaded with images rejected for print due to space limitations that could work wonderfully on the iPad's retina display as a slideshow.

But Saveur's website is not filled with video, so the title is not one of those that could take advantage of the tablet's qualities in this regard. But TransWorld Motocross is.

This week Bonnier released a new universal app for its bikini-girls-next-to-motorcycles magazine. TransWorld Motocross is yet another title that has gone the replica route.

I suppose the upside of this replica edition approach is that the magazine is identical across platforms. What you see on one device, even if you need a magnifying glass, is what you see on another. Whether you are reading the magazine via this new universal app on your iPhone or iPad, or reading the digital edition through Zinio or Google Play, the issues look the same.

The downside is that all that video that currently resides on the magazine's website is useless here. More importantly, the digital edition sets up the magazine to appear old fashioned and behind the minute someone decides to launch a truly interactive magazine for the field.

It's becoming an old story, and frankly, I hate repeating it over and over.