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?
Zinio is excited to see attention finally for digital mags. We’ve worked hard for 10 years & just getting started. Stay tuned #gozinio
— Zinio (@zinio) June 7, 2011
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:
- What iOS5 means to Indie publishing | Letter to Jane
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.
- Newsstand: What it means for tablet publishing | Pressrun Blog
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”.