Jim Spanfeller, former CEO of Forbes.com, said at a recent presentation at the Advertising Women of New York that he thinks publishers creating iPad apps to publish content are ridiculous. “There is no reason that their web sites can’t be doing the same thing.”
This is a couple of weeks after the publisher Hearst announced that it would be charging at least as much for the iPad version of its magazines as it does for its analog versions – perhaps even more.
I don’t think Spanfeller has had a chance to play with some of the new apps and publications. As many iPad users say, there is something different in navigating pages by swiping pages this way and that way. On a web page, it probably wouldn’t be so swift. And if you consider the Minority Report style of computer interface that is very likely going to be available soon (see John Underkoffler on Ted.com), you’ll probably agree that these things add up to the notion that we’re going to be seeing real changes to the way we consume online media.
The first thing I noticed about the iPad version of Wired is the interactivity of some of the ads. The better advertisements, like those of GE, were actually entertaining. The interactions in the articles weren’t’ necessarily so different than those that you might find on a good website – just that they were immediate. If anything, I felt some momentary confusion now and then – wondering if I could continue to scroll down, or whether I was at the end of an article, and had no choice but to flip to the right.
Pulse is basically a feed reader. The user can subscribe to a preset list of blogs, or connect to their own feeds via Google Reader. Blogs are then presented as horizontal scrolls of images and text – easy to navigate. The only problem here is that in order to interact – say, to post to Twitter – the user has to click over to the host of the blog. But overall, if I’m going to sit in the coffee shop and catch up on my blog reading, I’ll be launching this app.
Flipbook takes the Pulse concept a bit further. While the user isn’t able to subscribe to just any old feeds, it is simple to add your Twitter and Facebook feeds. Then, the magic happens – all of a sudden, boring old Twitter or Facebook looks like a glossy sexy magazine. Where your Twitter or Facebook pals have placed links to outside content, Flipbook pulls over the leading text, images, and videos from that content. And unlike Pulse, you are provided with the tools to comment, retweet, or email.
These apps are pointing the way, not only about new ways to be readers of magazines, but providing us with improved ways of taking in social media – for me, breathing new life into both.