- The highly touted Wired issue ($4.99) was downloaded 24,000 times in its first day and 62,000 to-date, grossing over $300k (netting $216k to Conde Nast).
- Rupert Murdoch announced that the Times of London had sold 5,000 subscriptions at £9.99 per month.
- The WSJ has reported 10,000 iPad customers, but hasn’t broken those out as to new subs vs. iPad access to those with existing wsjonline subscriptions.
- The FT app has been downloaded by a reported 130,000 users.
It’s great that 62,000 users downloaded the Wired app. A lot of that can be attributed to all the hype that came with its release. Yet how compelling was the Wired app experience? I played with it a bit and came away underwhelmed. The reading experience was OK, but nothing really different from what I could get on the web. Most of the innovation, it seems, was aimed at the advertisers, providing interactive ways to play with an ad. OK, that’s pretty cool for a demo, but do I really want to pay $4.99 to play with a bunch of ads? Perhaps the greatest condemnation comes from the InterfaceLab blog:
What strikes me most about the Wired app is how amazingly similar it is to a multimedia CD-ROM from the 1990’s
I think Wired will be lucky to see 10% of those users (6,000) come back to buy the second monthly edition. A more realistic guess will be about 3,000 users, hardly enough to drive circulation revenue OR get their advertisers excited.
Some of the other results are harder to interpret. WSJ figures don’t isolate new paid subscribers, so judging quality is impossible.
Similarly hard-to-judge is the FT, which is providing two months’ free service. My guess is that the conversion rate will be modest. Many of those users, of course, already have FT.com licences, so they will continue to use the iPad at no extra charge. For others, I’d expect a conversion rate in the 5% range.
That’s not to say that there are no success stories. The Times of London and FT may turn out to be a strong success, and I expect that the WSJ will do well on the iPad over time. I think that magazines will fare far worse. While newspaper usage will grow over time, I’ll be shocked if any future issues of Wired exceed the water mark set by the premier copy. An impulse purchase of a magazine for $5 at an airport newsstand or when heading to the beach makes sense. An impulse magazine purchase on the iPad, where you have the entire web at your fingertips, seems unlikely.When I first got my iPhone, I downloaded many new apps, many free, some paid. Over time, I got developed a routine and today have around 90 apps on the phone, but only a dozen or so are in steady use (TweetDeck, NewsRack, NYT, Bloomberg, Facebook, FourSquare, Pandora, Sportacular, TripIt, a few guitar apps and some games that my daughter plays regularly). The majority of the initial 10-20 apps I downloaded have been relegated to the trash bin.
The same will occur for new iPad users. And with a good screen and browser, many iPad users will find that visiting the content provider’s website using Safari provides as good or better experience, which is not the case on the iPhone.In the months to come we will see new and creative approaches to the iPad and other tablet devices. Publishers would be well-served in trying to find ways to create a compelling user experience that provides ongoing value, not simply a one-time gimmick.