Friday, December 28, 2012

12 Apps of Christmas: In October, two indy publishers show two visions for tablet-only magazines

The Twelve Days of Christmas runs from Christmas Day to the evening of January 5th, or Twelfth Night.  TNM's 12 Apps of Christmas, which began last week, will look at significant media apps  released in 2012. Today we have reached October, and will continue the series through New Year's Eve.

In October the app developer of Instapaper, Marco Arment, released a tablet-only magazine, simply called The Magazine, which garnered great attention from the tech community. Some called the spartan digital magazine the way future digital publications would be designed, without interactivity and more like a Kindle Edition.

But other developers strongly disagreed, stating that the platform's strength was its ability to create both simply digital publications, as well as publications that can convey complex information using animation, audio and video.

A good example of this is 451 MagPad, the tablet-only magazine from France, originally released in October.

The French magazine takes its name from the 1953 Ray Bradbury novel Fahrenheit 451 – though, as I wrote at the time, the publisher may have been thinking of the François Truffaut film of the same book.

While I see value in Arment's new venture, I tend to think that any publisher who intentionally ignores the attributes of the platform they are using places themselves at a disadvantage. While too many of the early digital magazines may have over done animation and other features, that does not mean that these features don't have value when used properly.
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October saw developer begin to incorporate Passbook into their mobile apps, the Apple payment system introduced with the launch of iOS 6. Starbucks, one of the more obvious uses of Passbook, updated its mobile app to add in Passbook support during October – only later finally updating the app to add in iPhone 5 support.

Also in October, one of Canada's leading newspapers, The Globe and Mail, announced that it would be launching a metered paywall later in the month. "Some of the world’s largest and most respected media outlets have successfully introduced a similar model, and we look forward to the benefits it will enable us to deliver to our readers and advertisers," said Phillip Crawley, publisher of The Globe and Mail.

Paywalls continue to be a controversial issue in the industry, with some success being recorded by financial newspapers and major national papers like the NYT. But other papers have launched paywalls while skeptics continue to warn publishers that they are about to make their titles irrelevant online.