Wed 21 Mar
One of the creators of the Mag+ platform for publishing content in the form of magazine-like tablet apps has some thoughts on the new iPad and the file size implications of its high-definition screen. This is in response to some speculation that when Retina-optimized magazine apps hit the market, the file size of these already bandwidth-hungry apps will balloon even further. The writer argues:
“I don’t believe people actually give a flying frog about file size — they care about value.”
Personally, the only tablet magazine app that I still use with any regularity is The New Yorker’s iPad app. As I’ve said before, I only download it to read the text and could care less about whatever value-add that its enormous download size is supposedly delivering. I’ve also said many times before that I believe most people don’t care about the value-add, that they would be just as happy to get a plain text version of the content without all of the design fussiness that these apps seem to think is indispensable. In fact, I would prefer a plainer version of the content, as I can’t tell you how often its heavy download demands have proved to be inconvenient; few things are as irritating as trying to get out the door in the morning when this app is leisurely downloading superfluous ads that I could care less about.
That said, Mag+ is essentially right that file size does not matter — or at least that it will matter less in the long-term. Eventually we will get enough bandwidth so that we can download the 150 megabytes or more that these apps ask us to retrieve. Though what I fear is that when we have that capacity, publishers will be asking us to download gigabytes per issue; this is after all an industry that cannot resist imposing greater and greater demands on its users in order to impress itself.