On TechCrunch, Erick Schonfeld takes a look at the problems magazines have been having adapting to the iPad—in short, they are over-bloated, under-featured, and cost too much—and suggests a blueprint for magazines and newspapers to follow to take full advantage of what the iPad has to offer.

Even though most iPad magazines are frankly lousy from a standpoint of usability, Schonfeld points out, they’re still doing major advertising business because “advertisers want to be associated with anything shiny and new.” It is, he says, considerably more advertising dollars than readers that are driving iPad magazine apps right now.

Schonfeld posits that what an iPad magazine needs is to be social, realtime, and local—it should be able to tell you what your friends are reading (and vice versa), it should be as up-to-the-minute as possible (just as the best web news services are), and it should be able to give you content based on where you are (which is something that a number of geolocation-based apps such as Yelp and FourSquare can do already).

It should fix the subscription issue (indeed, Schonfeld points out, it might be better not to bother with a paid subscription at all and instead charge advertisers more, since they’ll be reaching more people), and should be as easy as possible to launch and read.

If I were creating an iPad mag it wouldn’t look like a magazine at all. It would look more like a media app, and there wouldn’t be any subscription or even distinct issues. New content would appear every time you opened it up, just like when you visit TechCrunch or launch Flipboard or the Pulse News Reader. In order to make it addictive, it would have to be realtime. But it would also be more selective than simply reading everything that anyone links to in your Twitter or Facebook streams.

Schonfeld’s ideas sound great to me, and I’d certainly like to see something of that nature on my iPad or iPhone. I wonder if there’s any possibility that Flipboard might end up developing in that direction, given how close it is already in some respects.

It’s going to be interesting to see how the new iPad periodical “The Daily” comes out.


  1. I think that Zinio is moving in the right direction. I have recently been exploring their iPad app and it is pretty impressive so far. There are lots of reasonable subscriptions available and the National Geographic magazine (1 year sub for $15) is interactive and really nice. I am not going to pay $6 per magazine for stuff that I can get in print for much cheaper online but $15 for e-mags is very reasonable, especially for something like NG.