Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Newsweek, no longer a print title, gets an app update

Tina Brown may have shuttered the print edition of Newsweek but the digital edition found inside Apple's Newsstand lives on. Today that app, Newsweek for iPad, received an update.

Besides bug fixes, the update brings an all-new design, background downloading, a redesigned library and store with larger issue covers, etc.

The app description still refers to the print edition – which is a bit sad, I suppose – and there is still reference to print subscribers being able to log-in to gain free access.

For everyone else, the price to subscribe is $2.99 per month, or $24.99 per year.

Single issue can be purchased for $4.99, unless one wants to be the "PDF Archive" issues that date from April 2010 to December 2011, in which case the price is $0.99.
The iPad version of Newsweek is very much native (which makes sense since there is no print edition to provide the model for a replica). Animation is kept to a minimum and the small amount of video found is housed outside the app. The issues do support retina display iPads, but the latest issue still only weighs in at just over 160 MB.

When explaining her decision to shutter the print edition of the magazine, Tina Brown talked about the financial dynamics of print and the rise of tablets.

"...when it comes to print, some realities cannot be ignored," Brown wrote to readers. "It costs $42 million a year to manufacture, print, distribute, and manage the circulation of Newsweek. Was that any longer the wise use of scarce resources, we had to ask ourselves—all the more insistently after the supportive print ad dollars fell off a cliff across the entire industry in the spring of 2011. After all, an electronic Newsweek could be delivered swiftly and economically to millions. There are now 70 million tablet users in the U.S. alone, and a new report from comScore brings us the sobering—or exhilarating—news that two out of every five Americans now read newspapers and magazines on mobile devices. These readers, and there are more and more of them every day, simply bypass print."
We'll have to wait and see if The Daily Beast can make a go at tablet publishing with the Newsweek brand, but it should be pointed out there the advertising to be found in this week's issue is, well, sparse. And that is being generous.

In the end, all of us magazine publishers – and I still do consider myself part of that fraternity – are eager to see a tablet-only magazine filled with profitably priced display advertising. Making that happen will be the ultimate challenge for Newsweek.

Here is a brief walk-through the latest issue of the tablet-only version of Newsweek following today's app update: