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Is Wired's App Really the Future of Magazines? 207

Posted by timothy
from the at-least-bandwidth-is-free dept.
MBCook writes "Interfacelab has put up a review of Wired's new iPad app, and declared, 'The only real differentiation between the Wired application and a [1990s] multimedia CD-ROM is the delivery mechanism.' While providing little interactivity other than a fancy page-flip, the application is made of XML and images, including two for the text of each page in portrait and landscape mode. This seems to be why the application is 500MB. The article suggests this was done to get the app out quickly after Flash was officially vetoed by Steve Jobs."
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Is Wired's App Really the Future of Magazines?

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  • Well... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by thestudio_bob (894258) on Thursday May 27, 2010 @07:53PM (#32370280)
    Wired made something like $115,000 in four hours of sales.
  • by DeadJesusRodeo (1813846) on Thursday May 27, 2010 @07:56PM (#32370304)
    re:"The article suggests this was done to get the app out quick after Flash was officially vetoed by Steve Jobs"

    Why quick? Wasn't all the years flash was excluded for the iPhone at all a hint? OOOOOh I get it - controversy = hitcounts! Linkbait me baby - linkbait me!

    I think the interface still needs a little work - but at least it wasn't nearly as painful as PopSci's efforts. NYT still rules the interface roost. I know where to go - it stays out of the way - and no tutorial on "how to read this magazine" (Time, I'm looking at you).

    Might also be nice to have the video play in the page as an option like the NYT too. Or stream it to save on space. I can live without video when I'm on a plane.
  • PDF!!! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by GrahamCox (741991) on Thursday May 27, 2010 @07:57PM (#32370320) Homepage
    Haven't they heard of PDF? I mean, it's not as if the iPad doesn't have PDF written into its DNA from top to bottom, and that the format was pretty much invented for the very purpose to which they are not putting it here.

    Jobs may have declared war on Adobe's Flash format but Adobe's PDF format is a whole other story.
  • 500MB??!! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by fustakrakich (1673220) on Thursday May 27, 2010 @07:58PM (#32370324) Journal

    Insane!

    Each full page is a giant image...

    Ah ok... Don't want any copying and pasting...

  • Re:Obviously... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Shados (741919) on Thursday May 27, 2010 @08:00PM (#32370350)

    Indeed. The only real innovation in term of e-readers since the first handheld ones (ala Palm Pilot or similar) has been e-ink, and with color ones coming out soonish, this is seriously the way to go. You don't read several hundred pages in one sitting on an Ipad or similar devices, its just painful. And a book shouldn't need to be recharged every couple of days. E-ink readers and their month-long battery life (if you have a kindle, remember to turn off wifi =P) is the way to go.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 27, 2010 @08:09PM (#32370430)
    Why do you need a special application for "magazines"? They need text and images, which can easy be done in html and the iPad comes with a perfectly serviceable web browser that can read and display html. Or if they want to ensure offline viewing, just have the app grab a bunch of html and image files, store locally and browse there.
  • Re:Well... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MrHanky (141717) on Thursday May 27, 2010 @08:13PM (#32370474) Homepage Journal

    And the novelty factor lasted for ... four hours?

  • Re:Obviously... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by owlnation (858981) on Thursday May 27, 2010 @08:17PM (#32370510)

    The answer is no. Also, anyone using the iPad as ereader is mentally insane and hates his/her eyes.

    Really? This meme again? Someone always brings this garbage up. I guarantee you using the iPad as an eReader will have zero effect on your eyes. People have spent their whole working lives reading worse-quality desktop screens with no eyesight issues. So, you hate the iPad, good for you -- but let's knock the eyesight myth shall on the head shall we? Millions of people will be using the iPad as an eReader with no ill-effects.

    But yeah, the answer is no -- purely because this is an extremely inefficient way of delivering content.

  • by brit74 (831798) on Thursday May 27, 2010 @08:24PM (#32370580)
    Is this a review of the iPad as a magazine-reader ("Is This Really the Future of Magazines"), or a review of the Wired magazine App on the iPad? Judging from the title, it sounds like the former. I'd recommend looking at some other magazines or newspapers on the iPad if you're going to judge it as an eReader. For example, here's the USA Today App for the iPad (jump to 0:50) - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p5nJVtLygOM [youtube.com]
  • by nurbles (801091) on Thursday May 27, 2010 @08:30PM (#32370628) Homepage

    I had to cancel my subscription to WiReD because they have never, ever learned anything about readability and my eyesight has gotten to the point where I need a very bright light and a magnifying glass to read WiReD. I have no problem with books (paperback or hardcover) or most other magazines or newspapers, because for all of them, content is more important than style -- something that has NEVER been true at WiReD.

    I mention this because it is a perfect case for providing the magazine content in a format who's style the user may customize -- if they can understand that some people are actually trying to read their stuff and not just saying, "Wow! That's looks really cool. I wonder what it says?" It sounds like they did everything they could to avoid giving the user the ability to manipulate the presentation of their content, which seems to be almost the exact opposite of XML's purpose. I seriously hope that WiReD (and similar content providers) can get back to providing interesting/meaningful/useful content and restraining their style tinkering to the margins, where it belongs.

    I hope that the iPad version of the magazine at least allowed the reader to zoom and pan around the page, but knowing WiReD, they probably even disabled that because their strange sense of style demands that we suffer, um, I mean, view the entire page as a whole only.

  • Re:Obviously... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by 0xdeadbeef (28836) on Thursday May 27, 2010 @08:40PM (#32370698) Homepage Journal

    I have one, and reading on it does in fact give me a headache.

    If one could control the font and turn off antialiasing, perhaps it would be better.

  • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Thursday May 27, 2010 @08:41PM (#32370704) Journal
    Because the print guys are grasping at anything they can to distinguish themselves from the reams of text-and-images-in-HTML available for free in any browser.

    They are hoping(with some mixture of sheer desperation and modestly interesting UI quirks) that there is somehow a "digital magazine" that will allow them to get with this "digital" that they are losing all their readership and ad money to; but without sacrificing the "magazine" part.
  • by RobotRunAmok (595286) on Thursday May 27, 2010 @08:46PM (#32370750)

    I get dead-tree Wired for $10 a year; less than a buck an issue. So for the price of more than 5 such issues, I should buy a single issue with a glorified shovel-ware interface?

    Hmmm, let me think about that for a second. OK, no.

    Bad enough Wired never grew up out of its hipster typeface fetish, rendering many of the paper pages barely legible; I shudder to imagine what it looks like on an iPad.

  • by Bysshe (1330263) on Thursday May 27, 2010 @08:52PM (#32370780)
    Is the iPad (and similar devices) the future of magazines? Short Answer: No

    Long Answer: Just do the numbers. Time Magazine has a circulation of 3.3million [wikipedia.org]. Which is 1% of the US population roughly. Now if the same ratio holds true that Time would get a 1% market share of ipad users, that would make for currently... 10,000+/- ipad subscriptions. Even if the ratio is skewed totally out of proportion... Its simply not interesting from a business perspective to shift your content strategy to targeting ipads anytime soon. It will take a lot more than a few million ipads and ipad type devices sold for magazines to shift focus.
  • Doesn't the iphone have a web browser?

  • Re:Obviously... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by cynyr (703126) on Thursday May 27, 2010 @09:24PM (#32371004)
    by competitor you mean paper?
  • Re:HTML? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by masmullin (1479239) <masmullin@gmail.com> on Thursday May 27, 2010 @09:25PM (#32371016)

    people wont pay for HTML. They think that HTML should be free. People will pay for an "app" because OHHHH its an APP Ohhhhhh!

  • by Nerdfest (867930) on Thursday May 27, 2010 @09:25PM (#32371028)
    Over the past 6 months their target audience seems to have been people who want to buy an iPad. The ratio of Apple content on the site is higher than Slashdot, which has been bad enough itself lately.
  • by masmullin (1479239) <masmullin@gmail.com> on Thursday May 27, 2010 @09:27PM (#32371036)

    people wont pay for HTML. They can already get the HTML for free. the Mactards will however, pay for an app because "ohhhh its an app ohhhh!"

  • Re:Well... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by cgenman (325138) on Thursday May 27, 2010 @10:03PM (#32371264) Homepage

    I'd say at least then they know what content you're interested in, but they already know that from the website.

    Really, they need to re-invent presenting text-based information in a way that takes advantage of the iPad's strengths above and beyond HTML. For the life of me, I can't figure out what those might be. You could do walkthroughs of 3d models and spaces, but nobody wants to generate those resources. You could create interactive systems that replicate what the article is talking about, but nobody wants to generate those resources (and could be done in flash anyway). Any sort of discussion system is better suited for HTML.

    Really, the only way this will be anything other than an additional way of selling a dead-tree edition or a PDF of the website is if they broke the structure entirely and went with some sort of whacked-out information metaphor spacing similar articles near eachother in 3D space, floated related back-issue information nearby, and possibly had unicorns that crapped screen readable serif fonts. They don't seem to be willing to take the risk making a jump into a radical new way of browsing information, so the actual use of the program is a bit moot.

  • by fustakrakich (1673220) on Thursday May 27, 2010 @10:05PM (#32371274) Journal

    Why do you need a special application for "magazines"?

    It's a form of DRM..

  • by Angst Badger (8636) on Thursday May 27, 2010 @10:25PM (#32371392)

    It was always pretty rare for a magazine to be worth reading from cover to cover. Arguably, editors try to avoid that, since a magazine all of whose contents are interesting to its readers is going to have a very small and specialized subscriber base. Instead, editors try to appeal to a wider group, with the end result being that any given reader is only going to care about a fraction of the content. And this model worked pretty well as long as publication was capital-intensive. The web pretty much put an end to that.

    Obviously, it depends on what you're interested in, but nowadays you can find some or all of the kind of content that interests you for free, so unless you're after something highly specialized, you don't have to purchase access at all, much less buy a bunch of content that you aren't interested in to get to the small fraction that does interest you. The old magazine model no longer has much relevance. If so many people hadn't been exposed to magazines before the rise of the web, it would probably never occur to anyone to create online "magazines".

    In the long run, someone is going to figure out how to aggregate related content, probably with a high degree of personalization, in such a way that both the aggregator and the content creator get to expose readers to ads and thereby make money. This is basically already Google's approach, and they're making money hand over fist, but they're the ultimate generalists. The more specialized territory is still up for grabs, though it appears likely that specialized aggregators are more likely to evolve from blogs and wikis than search engines.

    But the magazine? It existed only because of a resource scarcity that no longer exists. Trying to make the magazine work in the age of the Internet is like trying to keep a ferry business alive after the bridge has been built.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 27, 2010 @11:04PM (#32371638)

    Agreed.
    You won't be sitting in a dentist's waiting room where they have provided a pile of iPads to browse while you wait.
    Physical editions will be around for some time yet.

  • by Eponymous Coward (6097) on Thursday May 27, 2010 @11:37PM (#32371824)

    Your numbers assume that every person is the same as any other from an advertiser's point of view and that simply isn't true. This is just a guess, but I bet the iPad owning demographic is very desirable for advertisers. These are people who have disposable income and they aren't afraid to dispose of it.

    Those 10,000 iPad readers may be worth much, much more than the same number of print readers.

    What really matters in this game is where advertisers are willing to buy ads.

  • Re:Well... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by srodden (949473) on Thursday May 27, 2010 @11:37PM (#32371826)
    Very thin :( I stopped buying Wired a long time ago because the signal to noise ratio dropped too low. Whenever I see it in the shops now it's 1/2 to 2/3 the thickness of what it was before and if anything, the signal:noise ration is even worse. For a while I though having adverts for expensive cars, watches and single-malts was pretty cool, a mark that business leaders are finally get a little more tech savvy. But when adverts are 2/3 of the magazines and 1/2 the remaining 1/3 are multi-page foldouts with an arty picture and a graph of arguable value, well, I didn't care to pay good money any longer to be advertised at.
  • by Eponymous Coward (6097) on Thursday May 27, 2010 @11:59PM (#32371942)

    they wouldn't stop me from throwing 128 pages of bound paper into a briefcase on a travel day

    And the guy sitting beside you on the plane will have every book ever published, entire magazine collections, and the means to search them, clip them, and annotate them on his tablet. I hope you don't have far to travel, because 86 of those 128 pages you are lugging around are advertisements.

  • Re:Well... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Bing Tsher E (943915) on Friday May 28, 2010 @12:50AM (#32372216) Journal

    Wired was always just a crassly commercial clone of Mondo 2000 even in it's heyday. M2000 went away when it's function had been fulfilled. Wired carried on in it's banality. It was never, ever cool or with-it, but a lot of people never saw M2000, so have no frame of reference.

  • by tyrione (134248) on Friday May 28, 2010 @01:19AM (#32372340) Homepage
    experience while using Cocoa and Objective-C, don't blame Apple. Blame the limited talents of Adobe and Wired who developed the application.
  • by mjwx (966435) on Friday May 28, 2010 @02:51AM (#32372684)

    And the guy sitting beside you on the plane will have every book ever published, entire magazine collections, and the means to search them, clip them, and annotate them on his tablet. I hope you don't have far to travel, because 86 of those 128 pages you are lugging around are advertisements.

    And the guy sitting beside him will actually be able to read because his dead tree isn't out of batteries.

    When I go on a flight, I'll pick a book or two to read like most people. I don't want 200,000 choices all indexed, I want one story beginning to end. If I need information indexed I'll use my laptop which is faster and better suited to the function. BTW, if 86 glossy A4 pages makes a difference to you, get to the gym as they will weigh less then 100 grams.

    The Ipad wont make one iota of difference to print media, much in the same way as the Kindle didn't or the Nook didn't. Why? Well that's simple, the people who are willing to give up on dead tree have done that already and get their information from the web. I don't get my industry information in print any more, I've completely switched to web (same with news) but my boss sits in his office reading his freshly delivered copy of BRW (Business Review Weekly) even though he knows the information is available for the same price minus delivery fee online. The accountant still walks in with a copy of the West Australian 3 days a week despite more up to date news being available on www.abc.net.au/news.

    Books are a different story, when the online version costs as much as the dead tree version I see no disadvantages, it's not like I'm going to dispose of a good book and a bad one goes to the 2nd hand bookstore (cant do that one with e-books).

  • Re:PDF!!! (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Idiomatick (976696) on Friday May 28, 2010 @02:55AM (#32372704)
    PDF is my most hated file format. (FLAC takes 2nd because people use it to make 3min songs into 50MB stupidities, I fail to see the purpose)

    PDFs, Like an image file but it can take more space (if it is image heavy) comes with security vulnerabilities, and requires a separate app to open. And if they used anything related to adobe reader it will be a horrifically bloated POS.
  • Download 500MB? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Animats (122034) on Friday May 28, 2010 @03:10AM (#32372738) Homepage

    What idiots. They're shipping an "application" that consists of over 4,000 image files and some XML. You have to download 500MB of stuff to read the magazine. How long is that going to take?

    Then there's the content problem. Wired, at this point, is basically a product catalog. Yet they didn't put a shopping cart system in the online version. That's just dumb. The demographic that buys both iPads and Wired would definitely click on "buy now" buttons.

Fools ignore complexity. Pragmatists suffer it. Some can avoid it. Geniuses remove it. -- Perlis's Programming Proverb #58, SIGPLAN Notices, Sept. 1982

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