Magazine chief: iPad users – prepare to be retrained

The Guardian has an interview with Future Chief Executive Stevie Spring. Future is a major magazine publisher based in the UK. I was interested to hear how she believes the iPad could change the industry:

We’ve had a whole decade of people paying, believing that if they paid for the pipes they got the poetry free; [they think] ‘I’ve paid my £15 or £20 for broadband so I get access to a library of content’. The iPad gives us an opportunity to retrain them. Content production is not free and good content is worth paying for.

I am all in favour of more people paying for content. However, there are a couple of aspects of this line of argument which concern me. One is pure scepticism – how many print readers will actually be willing to transition to paying for online content just because the iPad is a convenient way to consume it? The problem is that while print has an unique appeal, once you are online it is easy to find equally good content for free, in the case of the consumer magazines in which Future tends to specialise.

The other concern is a deeper one. I get the sense that Spring is talking about content delivered as apps, since this is a proven business – people will more willingly pay for an app, apparently, than subscribe to a web site.

However, content delivered in an app is one step forward, two steps back. The step forward is possibly richer content, with the full power of the local machine. The steps back are that it is not part of the world wide web – not searchable or linkable.

Finally, there is the Apple problem. Is this a Future where we have to be Apple customers in order to enjoy its publications?

2 thoughts on “Magazine chief: iPad users – prepare to be retrained”

  1. I for one would pay as I would pay for a the hard-copy of something. One way or another there is a cost; You either have the 3g enabled ipad so you can consume the content anytime, anywhere but pay for the data or you go for the wi-fi model with no data charges, and pay for a subscription which allows you to download the content when you have wi-fi and consume when you may not. The whole point of content delivered as an app is that you get something that takes advantage of the UI rather than a mobile version of an existing website. The big boys have realised this which is why they have done it; ebay, amazon, facebook etc etc.

  2. As I mentioned on your other topic about the iPhone TOS, Apple has spellbound the media distributors, because they have supplied an old school way of consuming media.

    This is also why most media won’t oppose Apple however very weird their move on the TOS is.

    If the media is not available anywhere else except on devices where you pay to view, what are you going to do? Well you could bet on Google’s ad supported web. I am not sure which I like the least…

    I just don’t understand how 2 companies can have such different play fields.

    Microsoft has to advertise other peoples products for free (the new browser ballot screen), they cannot bundle their own software into the OS, so we are left with many subpar applications on a clean install.

    Apple can pretty much do what they want, and don’t tell me they don’t have a monopol, they have 2 very big ones, the iTunes/iPod/mp3 and the iPhone. The number of iPhones might be a small compared to the total number of cell phones, but if you compare it to the number of PDA kind of cell phones it is a very different story.

    I just don’t understand how Apple is allowed to do what they do, or if they are, how come others aren’t.

    It is just not fair, and above it, it is not worth it, to let Apple do this however good reason they have for the sake of the end users.

    If Apple can ban tools used to create software, and they after they have been created with the “correct” tools they can still ban the application. Then Microsoft should be able to ban what software is running on Windows any way they seem fit, Google should be allowed to (not that they would want to) block whatever browsers they seem fit.

    Google opposes China for limiting freedom of speech, seems weird they don’t have the same values and oppose Apple when they try to limit just that, in a sense.

    That said, I have mentioned it many times before, web applications are inherently bad UI wise, applications tailored for the device is what we should be doing, for the sake of the end users.

    But I second your statement, it stinks.

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