Anderson: Stable Sales, 'Astounding' Engagement Times Seen For Wired App
After a breakout sales debut of 110,000 copies for the magazine's debut iPad App in June, single-copy sales of Wired magazine on the tablet have stabilized at around 30,000 a month, editor-in-chief Chris Anderson told an audience yesterday at the Mark Logic Digital Publishing Summit, held at New York's Plaza Hotel.
Current sales figures compare favorably to newsstand sales for the magazine, which stand at around 80,000 copies a month, he said. He called not being able to offer a subscription plan through Apple "just agonizing," noting this was one of the top complaints consumers had about the app, along with price, no discount for print subscribers and file size.
Anderson said current file sizes in the 400 MB range are partly due to embedded—rather than streaming—video, which allows users access to fully-functional editions even when on a plane or away from wi-fi hot spots.
The most important factor Anderson watches to gauge the success of magazines on tablets going forward is not sales, however. Throwing up a chart showing the number of minutes spent reading a particular magazine, using average data drawn from several Conde Nast titles, he noted print commands about 60 minutes of reading time per session. On the other end of the spectrum is Web viewing—a paltry 3 minutes per session. "The best designers have been focused on getting that three minutes up, and they're just not making any progress. It's not just us ... it just seems to be the default [for content channels on the Web]," he said, acknowledging that social networking sites like Facebook command much longer session times.
The iPhone, he said, sees a "remarkably high" engagement time of 58 minutes per session for rich media apps—but even this pales in comparison to the iPad, which clocks in at 100 minutes. "It's just astounding," he notes. "Now, I don't believe that's going to last. I don't believe we're going to be looking at an hour and 40 minutes for our magazines on the iPad, but I do think that we could get that same hour that we get from print. And in the 21st century, to get an hour of somebody's time in the face of infinite distractions and competition and information everywhere, is a magical and holy thing."
These type of engagement times are what bodes well for tablets as the future of media, Anderson says.
"If this plays out, these could be the most important ... numbers in the media industry," he said. "... If you are getting hour long session times for rich media on the iPad, you have essentially won."