is a blog about design, technology and culture written by Khoi Vinh, and has been more or less continuously published since December 2000 in New York City. Khoi is currently Principal Designer at Adobe, Design Chair at Wildcard and co-founder of Kidpost. Previously, Khoi was co-founder and CEO of Mixel (acquired by Etsy, Inc.), Design Director of The New York Times Online, and co-founder of the design studio Behavior, LLC. He is the author of “Ordering Disorder: Grid Principles for Web Design,” and was named one of Fast Company’s “fifty most influential designers in America.” Khoi lives in Crown Heights, Brooklyn with his wife and three children. Refer to the advertising and sponsorship page for inquiries.+
The New York Times reports that of all of Condé Nast’s many splashy iPad magazine apps the relatively boring New Yorker is its most successful. It now boasts about 100,000 readers, 20,000 of whom bought annual subscriptions.
“…The figures are the highest of any iPad edition sold by Condé Nast, which also publishes Wired, GQ, Vanity Fair, Glamour and others on the Apple tablet… The New Yorker, a magazine that has always been heavy on text, took a different tack from its peers. Instead of loading its iPad app with interactive features, the magazine focused on presenting its articles in a clean, readable format.”
This is part of the strategy that I’ve been advocating for in my various critiques of Condé’s approach to the iPad. In short, the best way to serve a reading audience is to focus on providing a terrific reading experience and to de-emphasize the showy, buggy and difficult-to-use extras that have become synonymous with the ‘iPad magazine app’ format. And in fact, I’m a regular user of The New Yorker app, especially while traveling, because it gives me reasonably unfettered access to the only thing I’m seriously interested in: the text.
None of which is to say, though, that The New Yorker app is anywhere close to perfect. First, it could use a code refresh as it crashes so frequently as to be unusable; in my recent experience all it takes to induce it to unexpectedly quit is to launch it and let it alone for five to ten seconds.
Second, selling 20,000 paid subscriptions is fantastic, but according to the Times as many as 75,000 of the app’s customers are, like myself, originally subscribers to the print edition. So in fact the majority of customers do not represent an expansion of the market at all. None of these numbers are to be sneezed at, of course, and even transitioning a print subscriber to the digital edition can be counted as a kind of win. But it strikes me that the whole lot of customers would be better served with an HTML5-powered app, rather than the current native app. That way, it would be significantly cheaper to service those 100,000 users and significantly easier to keep it from crashing so much.
Read the full Times article here.+