Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Why hasn't the Tablet made Magazines Huge?

With the multimedia capabilities, "push" data to refresh content, and a known display platform, you would think tablets such as the iPad would have made magazine apps a win.

In this article, there are several areas that impact magazine apps. One important data point:

Magazines need dedicated readers. But, Nielsen estimated the average mobile user has 41 apps on his or her smartphone. In April, a Flurry study showed the average smartphone user opens only eight apps a day, with the most popular being Facebook, YouTube and game apps. And according to a 2012 report from Localytics, 22 percent of all apps are only opened once.

To overcome this, a magazine app needs to be compelling.

Finding magazine content is not helped by the very nature of mobile apps. Unlike web-based content, magazine articles can neither be indexed or searched on the web when they are locked up in an app. Following a link from Google at best takes readers to an app store, not to the article itself — cutting the magazine out of this important referral service.

Magazine publishers should consider a consolidated content management system to mirror content in both locations -- the web and in their dedicated app.

Subscription models for magazine apps is a tough sell. People are troubled by pay-walls on newspaper web sites. They apparently dislike a similar approach to magazine apps. Think about any successful standalone iPad magazines -- the most assertive attempts, News Corp’s “The Daily” iPad app, closed after two years of operation. The Daily only cost $0.99 a week, but with just a little over 100,000 subscribers, it couldn’t break even.

Perhaps just going with the advert-driven model, with paid ad-opt-out, might solve this? While the future of producing quality content for niches is bright, such content should be presented openly (think social, such as via Facebook and Twitter). The age-old model hasn't really changed: eyeballs, after all, translate into advert revenue.

Read Jon Lun's assessment here.

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