Reading on the Move
When the iPad arrived on the scene in early 2010, the possibilities for digital magazines seemed to skyrocket. Excited murmurs zipped through the magazine industry. With its large screen size and growing popularity, the iPad quickly assumed a dominant position on the tech scene, a reputation quickly confirmed with high-profile, whiz-bang tablet apps from iconic brands like Wire, Popular Mechanics and Sports Illustrated. Over time, tablet magic began to seem more like smoke and mirrors for some hoping for a big monetary return, and while the iPad has secured a permanent place in the publishing landscape, its exact role for magazines is still a developing story.
However, this is not an article about the ups and downs of magazines on the iPad, but rather of publishers' recent renewed interest in the tablet's not-so-humble older sibling, the iPhone. For all its success, the device that re-wrote the book on media consumption initially did not seem to offer much in the way of opportunities for magazines, as its small screen size made it hard to replicate the traditional lean-back reading experience. Even as publishers like Condé Nast and Meredith jumped into tablet publishing with both feet, the niche for the iPhone and other smartphones seemed restricted to games and specialized "utility" apps.
However, despite the challenges of working with such small real estate, a trend has erupted of adapting full magazine editions for the iPhone. The New Yorker, The Economist, Men's Health …magazine after magazine is turning to the iPhone to launch brand new full digital editions.
The reason for the trend may have to do with recent data on the exploding ad market for mobile products; with most of Facebook's growth occurring on mobile and figures pointing to a huge surge for the format over the next few years (analyst Gordon Borrell of Borrell Associates predicts 88 percent of local advertising will be served on mobile devices by 2016), the market is simply too important to ignore.