This is part of the Top Magazine iPad series
TIME has released its iPad app, but it has led to split reactions from its consumers. While it offers its usual high quality print issue content, it still seems to fall short of being a great app in terms of additional content and price value.
1) Usefulness/Value to User
-First off, it’s not a positive that you have to buy single issues only, as digital subscriptions haven’t been made into effect yet. On the other hand, it’s handy that TIME includes, to the normal print edition’s content, additional international content, and extra photo galleries and live video. 6/10
-TIME’s great photojournalism content is very suited to the iPad layout, and it allows a very comfortable read as well. The table of contents greets you first thing, and clicking on any screenshot of an article takes you there right away. It does seem to still have a few hiccups as, despite its promise, the TIME app doesn’t seem to archive issues very well, with some reports of users complaining that they have multiple issue icons on their home screen. 6/10
3) Price/Business Model
-At $4.99 an issue, TIME joins some other magazines in risking coming across to consumers as a bit greedy. Magazines that charge this much have to keep developing excellent, innovative content if they are to sway consumers, to whom it won’t be a secret that a year’s iPad TIME subscription will cost $260, while the print version costs $26 for a year. This gets harder to explain with very visible ads which, you would think, should not be cause for increase in cost anyway. To its credit, it does slightly better than magazines like Wired, and offers download of its app for free instead of charging. Also, they have announced that plans are underway to offer an option to combine existing print subscriptions with a digital one. 4/10.
4) Additional Functionality
-Currently there are no sharing features, so no clear way of forwarding an article to someone. 3/10
Using the TIME iPad app is like digging into a mixed bag. While the content of its quality journalism is still there, there is a lot of minuses for consumers. Sharing is not an option, and users have to go to the trouble of downloading each issue as it comes, but its offer of digital/print subscription combination will be quite new. Still, it’s debateable whether that will be enough to appease users.