Monday, November 8, 2010

Vogue on the iPad: Best Foot Forward For December, But No Promises Of A Second Issue for iPad

Fashion magazine Vogue puts its best high-heeled foot forward into the new world of magazines-on-iPads with a December issue.  It's an exploration, the magazine's editor indicates, and not a promise of setting up permanent residence.

The UK edition of fashion magazine Vogue launched its app for the iPad over the weekend in a trial run in the marketplace.  But all you get for free is a look at the cover and a chance to buy. Indications are there won't be a second issue until the publisher sees how the first one sells.

The full issue that print readers get is included in each monthly purchase ( £3.99  - about $6.50 US for the December issue at today's exchange rate), along with videos of the top supermodels of the decade, and a film about cover girl Emma Watson.

Vogue Editor Alexandra Shulman expresses concerns and admits to some discomfort with the post-iPad landscape.  In that she joins editors at The New Yorker, among others.  

"It has been much more work and much more complex to build and create it and work out what we are doing than I expected," she said.  "I had thought more people would by this time be buying media products on iPads.  The reality is that not that many iPads have been sold in this country [the UK].

Therefore, Vogue's debut iPad app powered issue may not be followed by a second.  "It will be interesting to see what people use and enjoy and what they think is a waste of time," Shulman says.  "I'd like to get feedback before we start on the next one and work out what's worth putting the energy into." 

In the UK, The Independent  gives the first iPad Vogue a thumbs up:  "Given such hurdles, Vogue is quite an achievement."  They site reading 300 pages of the magazine as "an experience" and noted the video features "which serve as both luxurious treats and insights" behind the runway curtains of the fashion industry.  "What we haven't done is create different content for the iPad," Shulman says.  "That is not the way to go if you want to keep your sanity."

Businesses of all types are being herded into the new world created by the iPad.  Does the future--and their competitive survival--hinge on a major tablet presence?  No one knows at this point, but no one wants to risk being left behind if readers take to magazines on iPads and tablets in a big way.

In the end, it's about making money.  "There are no vanity exercises here," Shulman says.  "We here."  The big question:  Does being on the iPad and other tablets "become the only way you get Vogue 20 years down the line?  Does it replace the [printed] magazine?"

Magazine publishers in the US worry about the same issues, and will be watching the Vogue launch with interest--and concern.

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