Over at Magforum, Tony Quinn has compiled a “History of the Digital Magazine” which gives a good overview of the digital developments in the magazine industry over the last three decades. It’s certainly worth a read. Some highlights include:
- 1982 – Magazines start to use email and electronic mailboards
- 1983 – Viewdata systems deliver magazine content via TV channels and phone lines
- 1995 – IPC launches Unzip, the first interactive magazine on CD-ROM. Others follow.
- 1995 – Several major magazines build websites
- 1996 – ABCe starts auditing the circulation of digital content
- 2001 – Digital facsimiles in PDF format are distributed by publishers
- 2006 – Magazines deliver downloadable content to mobile, and distribute video via YouTube
- 2007 – Digital-only “page-flip” magazines launched (Monkeymag, Jellyfish etc)
- 2008 – Thousands of digital magazines are available through digital newstands
If I wanted to be critical, I could add “2009 – John Menzies close their leading digital newstand stating that advertisers are not interested.”
Ceros in particular have brought out some great digital magazines recently, and I don’t think that the format is finished. I do think, however, that digital “page-flip” magazines will start to be treated as microsites – tight, brand-controlled experiences – rather than the future of digital distribution. The future is undeniably social, open, and free. Except that many publishers would argue that free leads to no future at all.