Overhype

by Mike Masnick


Filed Under:
apps, ipad, magazines



Why iPad Magazine Apps Suck: They're Defined By The Past, Not The Future

from the paperless-magazines dept

Earlier this year, we suggested that the media industy's infatuation with the iPad as some sort of savior was going to result in serious disappointment. Part of the reason was that the media industry was salivating over the false belief that it could bring back the old "gatekeeper" control that it used to have, and which its old business model was built from. And, indeed, the early results of iPad magazines aren't particularly promising. Now, it's still quite early, and two things are likely to happen: tablet computers (and better smartphones) will become more popular and publishers will become smarter about these things over time. So I wouldn't read too much into the success/failure numbers at this stage.

However, I tend to agree with this analysis by Khoi Vinh that suggests a major problem is that magazine publishers are focused on building apps that are too much like "magazines," which is not how people want to use their mobile devices:
My opinion about iPad-based magazines is that they run counter to how people use tablets today and, unless something changes, will remain at odds with the way people will use tablets as the medium matures. They're bloated, user-unfriendly and map to a tired pattern of mass media brands trying vainly to establish beachheads on new platforms without really understanding the platforms at all.

The fact of the matter is that the mode of reading that a magazine represents is a mode that people are decreasingly interested in, that is making less and less sense as we forge further into this century, and that makes almost no sense on a tablet. As usual, these publishers require users to dive into environments that only negligibly acknowledge the world outside of their brand, if at all -- a problem that's abetted and exacerbated by the full-screen, single-window posture of all iPad software. In a media world that looks increasingly like the busy downtown heart of a city -- with innumerable activities, events and alternative sources of distraction around you -- these apps demand that you confine yourself to a remote, suburban cul-de-sac.
To be honest, this isn't that surprising. The problem, as with almost all new media technologies is that those who came from the earlier media worlds try to define the new world in terms of the old. It's why original TV programs simply tried to replicate radio programs, until people realized that you could do something quite different in a visual medium. It's why many media companies still look at the internet as a broadcast medium designed for delivering its content to the masses -- rather than recognizing that the real power is in its use as a communications platform.

Eventually they'll adjust and figure it out (or, if they don't, go out of business). And then the solutions that work won't be "magazines as an app," but services that really make use of what these devices enable: communication and content on the go.

Reader Comments

Subscribe: RSS

View by: Time | Thread


  1. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 13 Nov 2010 @ 6:17pm

    Completely agree.

    Web2.0 was all about putting user content online for all to see-- meaning every meaningless piece of the net had comment boards and mega-interaction with all the social networking sites.

    "cloud computing" was all hyped up on the idea that you don't won't need to install another piece of software as it will all be accessible over the web soon.

    Now with the 'app' wave, it's all reverse. Just about every respectable website has its own downloadable piece of software which presents a modified form of the standard html version of the site, sometimes for offline access. However, ever since the late 90s we've been trying to get everything persistently, constantly connected. Always-on software and hardware, broadband everywhere. The idea of having multitudes of disjoint pieces of software that are really nothing more than memory-hogging bookmarks is incompatible with the philosophy of broadband.

    Needless. The iApp phase is just that.

Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here
Get Techdirt’s Daily Email
Use markdown for basic formatting. HTML is no longer supported.
  Save me a cookie
Follow Techdirt
Special Affiliate Offer

Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Essential Reading
Techdirt Deals
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Techdirt Insider Chat
Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Recent Stories
Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads

Close

Email This

This feature is only available to registered users. Register or sign in to use it.