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Hey, Magazine Publishers, Don't Blame Apple

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#1 johnnyhusker82


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Posted 18 January 2011 - 09:07 AM

Hey, Magazine Publishers, Don't Blame Apple

Bonnier's Popular Science made its iPad debut in April.

Just a few months ago, it seems, beleaguered newspaper and magazine publishers were drooling over Apple's iPad and the tablet-computing revolution it signaled.

Here, they thought, was finally the magic device that would put the genie of free content let loose by their short-sightedness in the 1980s and 1990s back in the bottle. They would develop cool new digital publications just for the iPad and its multiple little brothers and sisters—and actually charge for them. After all, they had to somehow come up with a way to pay for all those real people to gather actual news and put it out there for the masses to tweet and post to their Facebook walls.

And advertizing on the Web has been nowhere near as lucrative as those full-page ads in the print New York Times or those filling glossy magazines. So, led in part by News Corp.’s Rupert Murdoch, the New York media elite fell into the kind of wishful thinking you find in industries undergoing wrenching change. The iPad would be their savior.

Well, maybe not. Murdoch has put off launching his much-ballyhooed (and second-guessed) The Daily, a digital newspaper designed specifically for iPads. Other magazine publishers—including Condé Nast, the sister company to Portfolio.com owner American City Business Journals—have rolled out iPad-friendly versions of themselves and charge users for the apps to access those versions. But the business hasn’t exactly taken off.

The publishers, naturally, blame Apple. The Cupertino computer and content giant won’t play ball with them and sell subscriptions, and they can’t gain traction with readers through the one-off payment options Apple is letting them sell in the app store.

David Carey, president of Hearst Magazines, which offers five publications on the iPad, tells the New York Times’ Jeremy W. Peters: “If you look at the Apple store, the most common reason that people give an app a low rating is that it lacks a subscription option. They want to subscribe, and they don’t like the idea of paying $4.99 a month.”

That may be so. But there may be something else at work here too. Slapping cool graphics and maybe a little video along with the content people can get for free may just not be the answer to the media industries woes. And the next generation of media may not be incubated in the glass towers of Manhattan, but in some basement somewhere where entrepreneurs are coming up with an as-yet-unformed model for the media business.

After all, it’s publishers’ jobs—not Apple’s—to figure out how to make money on content that’s clearly valuable. And if the current crop of publishers can’t do that, someone creative out there can.

Read more: http://www.portfolio...d#ixzz1BOq8ms5i
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