As the New York Times showed off the iPad application they had been working with Apple to produce, the future of traditional print saw a glimmer of hope for its new platform. Publications like the NYTimes and WSJ crave a means by which they can charge readers, just as they've done in years past for their subscription model. If this thing was supposed to play a role in saving all old media, where was a killer implementation of a digital magazine?
Both Wired and Time Magazine had unveiled where their ideas for digital content were headed. They caught on to new medium implementations like video and interactive advertisements that would intertwine with the print columns, offering a user experience that was tenfold to what's capable on paper. User customization and interaction took the driver seat, really showcasing what we should come to expect. They'd gone through the work to create a futuristic magazine but nothing ever came to be.
As word spread that Conde Nast was working hard to prepare their most popular magazines for the iPad, it became clear they had been working with Adobe on its Air platform in hopes that Apple would adopt such a standard. Apple shot down such a possibility as they've closed down their platform to SDK development only. Adobe might be working on a way to export Air files to be compatible on the iPad in much the same way Flash can export to an iPhone application. Wouldn't a better solution have been a magazine SDK with an iMagazine store?
During the run up to the iPad unveiling, it seemed most publishers sat on their hands, waiting to see how Apple could save what they've relied on for years. Perhaps an SDK that would make for easy transitioning from print to digital with predetermined 'page' formats that publishers could adopt at will; a platform that was cohesive and treated all magazines equally. Perhaps they could have created a user experience that didn't change from magazine to magazine simply because the larger publishers were capable of larger budgets; a template, if you will, that could serve as a foundation for all publishers to work from.
Instead of something so easily producible, we've only seen this idea vaguely targeted to the iBookstore. All iBooks will look the same, with the same template and user experience from book to book. It'll provide a consistent look and feel that could just as well suit magazines. Until something like this happens, we're bound to see some shoddy digital magazines that could have brought so much to such a unique device.
What do you think? Should Apple have introduced a way for publishers to easily create their own digital magazines instead of the SDK currently available? If you've got any ideas, share them in the comments.
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