Apple’s iOS5 Newsstand: lots of coverage, lots of questions

08/06/2011 — 11 Comments

iOS5 NewsstandRelated: 4 problems Apple’s iOS5, iCloud and Newsstand could fix

As always, coverage of Apple’s latest announcement has been off the scale. iOS5 brings a whole bunch of shiny new features and the beginnings of a cloud-borne revolution that is going to demote the PC to be just another device. Whatever!

Right now I’m more interested in what the Newsstand will mean for digital magazines. Here’s what Apple says about it.

Newsstand is a beautiful, easy-to-organize bookshelf displaying the covers of all your newspaper and magazine subscriptions in one place. A new section of the App Store™ features just subscription titles, and allows users to quickly find the most popular newspapers and magazines in the world. If subscribed to, new issues appear in the Newsstand and are updated automatically in the background so you always have the latest issue and the most recent cover art.

Basically it’s the iBookstore, but for magazines and with subscriptions and regular content updates. So far so good. Anything that makes it easier to find magazines in the chaos of the App store is a big plus. At the moment magazines fight for attention alongside “games, calculators and farting noise makers,” as Marcus Grimm so eloquently puts it on the NXTBook Media blog. But what does this mean for “traditional” digital magazine suppliers?

Zino – interestingly describing itself as “The World’s Largest Newsstand” for a while now – is putting on a brave face. Optimistic for a company that, according to the New York Times, is one of a dozen application providers likely to be driven to extinction by integrated iOS5 features.

Rex Hammock is a lot more positive on the survival of independent Apps threatened by iOS5, and there’s still a lot of room to be positive. Beyond the basic, rather obvious functionality described at the WWDC, no one really has any details on the Newsstand. How do publishers get their magazines on there? Unlikely that they will be able to adopt much of a DIY approach; that’s just not Apple’s style. And what formats will be supported? As Jeremy Leslie on Magculture asks: “…will Apple introduce an iBooks-like dedicated production method?”

If they do, interactivity is pretty much a no-no in the iBookstore right now. So will the newsstand be all about flat magazine replicas? Does that make it a promotional platform for enhanced magazines in the App store, or could magazine publishers use enhanced apps to promote regular subscription content? And how will publications with controlled/free circulations get on? It’s tough to see Apple spending much time figuring out how the Newsstand will work best for titles that deliver them 30% of nothing.

Overall, initial impressions of the Newsstand are positive, and like Steve Jobs himself, the magazine sector seems pretty excited to see what the developers do with the 1,500 new APIs in iOS5.

For some excellent early insight on the Newsstand launch, take a look at these posts:

On the iPad the magazine competes with every book, video game, 101 great wallpapers, and sex tips app in the market. It was a bad problem that needed a fix, and today that might have happened.

To make use of the new features, publishers must invoke the newly added “Newsstand Kit framework”. From what we have been able to understand, some simple settings will help an iPhone or iPad recognise that the app as a magazine or newspaper that belongs in the Newsstand.

From a reader’s perspective, the facility for a well-designed, automatically updated, and fully aggregated periodical app will no doubt be a welcome addition. For content providers, the ‘killer app’ in this killer app may be the secret compartment that lies behind the bookcase – the “Newsstand Store”.

11 responses to Apple’s iOS5 Newsstand: lots of coverage, lots of questions

  1. I’ve been playing with iOS 5 beta yesterday and contrary to popular belief, it won’t make it easier to find magazines. From what I see, you still purchase magazines in the app store… once you subscribe… your subscriptions will show up in the newsstand.

    • According to the Apple quote above, though, “A new section of the App Store™ features just subscription titles, and allows users to quickly find the most popular newspapers and magazines in the world.”

      So although you may not purchase issues or subscriptions from within the Newsstand, a designated section in the App Store is still a significant improvement on the current situation. Maybe not ideal, but an improvement nonetheless.

      • Yea.. I’m in error I apologize. I dug a little deeper last night. As a “free” publication we’ll have to start charging something so that we can utilize Apple’s in app subscriptions in order to be listed in this section.

  2. Will I be able to see all of my Zinio subscriptions in the newsstand folder on iOS 5 or will Newsstand only display the subscriptions from the App Store and not subscriptions from Zinio.

  3. I think that the new iOS has potential, For magazine app distributors and all developers in general, it is important to be able to adapt to changes and anticipate that as soon as we start getting things in order with changes, that something new will be on the way.

  4. Does also free magazines will be also added to Newstand ?

    • Peter Houston 05/10/2011 at 10:30 am

      Yes Minia, free publication apps will be available through the Newsstand.

      This is from a preview by Jeff Sonderman:

      Free apps can participate
      While Newsstand is aimed at encouraging paid subscriptions and single-issue sales, apps that do not charge for content can participate. Free apps can still push a background issue download once a day, or update with the latest news when opened, as they do now.



  5. Do my Zinio subscriptions show up in Apple’s Newsstand? If I get a digital magazine from Zinio does it only show up in Zinio or can I see them also in Newsstand?

Trackbacks and Pingbacks:

  1. 4 problems Apple’s iOS5, iCloud and Newsstand could fix « The Flipping Pages Blog - 13/06/2011

    […] week’s coverage of Apple’s iOS5 and how it might impact magazine publishers raised as many questions as it answered. The confusion seems to have been exacerbated by the fact that the Newsstand App doesn’t work […]

  2. HP to use digital magazine to push webOS 3.0 apps « The Flipping Pages Blog - 23/06/2011

    […] that, just as Apple gets its corporate head around iPad magazines and announces the Newsstand with iOS5, HP is launching a digital magazine along with it TouchPad tablet. The magazine (some say weekly, […]

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