Are Magazine Apps Dead?

Magazine industry veteran Robert Newman posed this question to several influential people working at the intersection of digital media and print magazines. The results are very insightful. Here’s a sampling:

Josh Klenert, Executive Director in the Digital Customer Experience team for JPMorgan Chase:

A lot of what was done in wave 1 of app magazines ignored the lessons of web over the last 20+ years. I am incredibly optimistic about magazine-like storytelling on digital devices, but binding them to print production cycles in monolithic downloads must evolve. I think that’s why we’re starting to see lots of robust feature-length stories told directly on the web in responsive web packaging.

David Jacobs of 29th Street Publishing:

What we have learned is that the replica will never be successful. Consumers have soundly rejected them: digital subscriptions make up only 3% of total subscriptions. But I am of course optimistic about the future of magazine apps, since the industry has an opportunity for a reboot.

Joe Zeff of Joe Zeff Design:

I wouldn’t say that magazine apps are dead, but that they are in dire need of a transfusion. I continue to be optimistic because there’s no stopping the proliferation of tablets. There will continue to be a market for applications built specifically for these devices.

Mario García of García Media:

We still see a lot of static, turn-the-page-type of magazine apps. We need to begin to look at the tablet’s peculiarities, to what it can do, and then exploit that. It is not a print publication per se. It is a combination of book, film documentary, a little TV, some radio. It is multisensory, and we have not explored that fully yet. It is also the closest we can come, so far, to a digital experience that matches a lot of the intuitive movements that we are familiar with via print.

Jeremy Leslie of magCulture:

The initial excitement across the industry, from publishers and creatives, has subsided as the reality of making apps hit home. From a business point of view the promise of easily slipping app production into the print workflow was foolishly naive, while editors and designers who were keen to experiment soon found themselves stretched too thin. On top of this, sales have been disappointing so most apps have reverted to simpler replicas as a holding pattern while publishers work out next steps.

Read the full article at Newman’s site.


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