Guest Column: Chicken Little and the iPad
Anticipation, excitement, fear, frustration; publishers have experienced all of these emotions and more during the year since Apple released its wildly popular iPad tablet computer. Change is coming at a rapid pace. Most of us agree there is a new opportunity right in front of us, yet we haven't figured out the best way to grasp it. The answers will come. We just need to be patient and let digital publishing continue to evolve, while ignoring the naysayers who are already writing it off.
Toward the end of 2010, a whopping eight months after the release of the iPad, a flood of stories declared the failure of publishing on the iPad, based on supposed soft sales figures. A perception exists out there that legacy publishers are struggling with magazine sales on the iPad, when that couldn't be further from the truth.
Wired reportedly is setting the pace with upwards of 30,000 issues sold per month, with many other recognizable brands ranging from 10,000 to 15,000 issues sold per month. Numerous pundits perceived these numbers as an indication that the public is rejecting this publishing model. I say this proves the public is accepting it.
Consider that these sales figures were mostly compiled when there were 7 million to 8 million iPads sold worldwide. Lop off the portion of devices sold overseas where fewer issues are sold, add in the absence of a subscription model for much of that time, an overly aggressive pricing model and minimal innovation, and the numbers are that much more impressive.
Initial demand for the iPad2 suggests sales estimates for 2011 were too low. Even if iPad2 sales hit the low end of the range of analysts' estimates and total about 45 million, that would place 60 million devices (between the iPad and iPad2) in hand a mere six months from now. If current magazine sales keep pace with the increased number of devices sold, then publishers could see their sales numbers multiply accordingly and total about 100,000 per month. Not bad for 1½ years after the iPad's release. Now consider the nine-figure annual sales projections for tablet computers within three to four years, and the future is even more exciting and likely very lucrative.
Ron Matejko is the President of Phoenix, Ariz.-based MVP Media, an award-winning digital publishing company. Matejko has 16 years of publishing experience in print, Web and mobile and has worked on the staff of two award-winning publications.
MVP Media publishes MVP Magazine, the first interactive sports publication, which won a Bronze 2010 Digital Magazine Award for Best Sports Magazine, besting entrants from 26 countries around the world, and was a finalist for Designer of the Year. MVP Media will launch its own magazines on the iPad in 2011.
MVP Media also helps existing publishers convert their print products into dynamic publications for the web and tablets. Visit the MVP Magazine website at www.mvptoday.com. Contact Ron by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org, or connect with him on LinkedIn or on Twitter @mvp_media.