Digital Magazine Sales Dropping on iPad

Continued from a previous post… Why are digital magazines on the iPad already in decline, after the initial gold rush users are losing interest in the digital versions. Wired, which sold 100K issues of it’s first iPad release, then managed to sell an average of 31K in the following months, with only 23K for October and 22K for November (for comparison they sold 130k printed versions in Oct-Nov).

Why is this happening?

It’s too early to say for sure (this is a very new market space), but general consensus is that Apple’s lack of subscription based payment is a major reason, meaning users have to manually purchase individual magazines rather than automated payments, plus these work out being more expensive. There’s rumours that Apple are about to roll out subscription based payments, hopefully it won’t be too little too late.

But will it be the answer, possibly, but I believe magazines and news networks need to look at the iPad and tablets in an entirely different way, rather than simply a medium for them to spout out digital versions of their print publications.

I’ve read numerous blogs and reports saying print is dead, but there’s new print magazines being released every week, so that doesn’t seem to ring true to me. Consumers still wish to consume, but the way they consume information is different now, it’s available instantaneously from so many sources and with social networks that information is becoming more and more driven by their friends, associates and their own likes and dislikes.

Flipboard on the iPad is a wonderful example of this, never before has my Facebook, Twitter and RSS feeds looked so good, and been so engaging. Now if I could subscribe to several news networks, magazines etc all within a single app, and micro pay for each article as I read it, I’d be happy, as I only pay for the articles that grabbed my eye and interested me, and the software would automatically highlight related articles from all my subscribed sources and suggest new ones from other popular sources I may not have heard about and would have never found on my own.

Hands up who has ever read an entire newspaper or magazine, cover to cover? Precisely, so why pay for the whole thing when you only read a fraction of it? So rather than getting what you pay for, how about only paying for what you want? Who wouldn’t pay a penny or a cent or two per news item or magazine article that they read, as long as the payment part was transparent and managed for them, most people would give this a go, especially if they knew they could set a cap, or would have access to the whole issue if they went over a certain percentage of articles. Adverts can still be utilised, they could even be used against payment, watch an ad, get the article for free or at a reduced rate.

The technology is certainly there, the main thing holding it up, is publishers being scared to give it go through fear of losing control of their content and user base, but if they don’t do it soon willingly, then their hands will be forced by market forces, and they’re have less room to negotiate!

Who could pull this off, Apple, Amazon, Google, they could all do it, although I feel Apple is best placed for the micropayments, plus by utilising the iPad and the iOS platform, far more engaging advertising can be achieved than on a Kindle. Google just don’t have the payment side worked out properly. Apple on the other hand do, they have iTunes, ease of use and making micropayments is already there. I’ve read often that micropayments won’t work as users are put off by the fear of accumulating enormous bills at the end of the month, but the success of the App Store squashes that claim, often I’ve purchased apps at £0.59 (the minimum charge), for Apps I know nothing about, or will only use for a day or so.

With rumours of the next iPhone and iPad finally having Near Field chips, Apple are in a prime position to take on the big credit card companies that have been dragging their heels on NF for years.

An application that fuses Flipboard and Apple’s iBook into a magazine / news RSS reader, come social app linked to your Twitter and Facebook accounts, that microcharges you for articles as and when you read them, embedded with iAds, all linked back to your iTunes account, would be a very powerful and profitable application, and would be the perfect way for Apple to build it’s own social network (which it’s hungry to do), and utilise it’s new cloud data centre.

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