I’ve been purposely avoiding posting about the frequent digital-magazine-on-a-tablet demo launches that have occurred over the last few months. But now the (potentially completely unsubstantiated) hype about the supposed launch of an Apple tablet device has gone into overdrive, I though I would sum up some of the best efforts and make some comments.
- Tablet devices that are just for viewing magazines have an audience the size of Darlington Football Club. The iPhone has typified a trend towards convergence of devices: my iPhone is my mp3 player, phone, camera, portable computer, and on the very rare occasion gaming device. So why would I buy a piece of chunky hardware to view magazines now-and-again?
- The gap in the market for a tablet, fitting between an iPhone and a notebook computer in functionality, is very slim. However, I know Apple has the potential to redefine these categories with a superb and intuitive device.
- As Paul Carr states in his own unique way, the Kindle has shown there is demand for a reading device that uses some form of e-ink technology and therefore allows more comfortable and less retina-damaging reads. Anything that doesn’t, is going to find it hard to prove itself as a preferred magazine device against the laptop and iPhone.
- The demos I have seen all assume that I still want to read a collection of articles that have been bundled based on the interests of a large group of people. Magazines deliver a wonderful serendipity, but I can’t remember reading a magazine recently of which I was interested in/motivated to read more than 30-40%. Whereas there are many blog sources on my feedreader which I NEVER miss out on reading. I want more socially-recommended and personalized content selection. Surely a digital device should aim to deliver a dynamic selection of content?
- If I was cynical, I would say that the magazine houses are just getting into this game to try and desparately preserve their existing revenues, and creative and editorial processes, rather than adapting to the new environment with new business structures. I might be alone, but I read articles not magazines – media is disaggregated. And I find them when people I trust recommend them to me – media is distributable. And I read them on my mobile phone – media is mobile.
And so to the demos. In case you haven’t already seen them, below are three of the best recent launches.
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