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15 Mar

WIRED on a white horse, FTW? iPad-zines might just work

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OK, there’s been a break in the hype about the iPad, so I’d like to add an additional two cents… you may have read my first post where iPad has incredible journalism potential, but not its savior… well… I’m going to have to change tweak my tune.

Wait, wait… it’s not the savior, but done right it can create an incredible revenue stream for certain print products.

Let me tell you how I got here.

We started with Amazon‘s Kindle. The most transitional, soon-to-be-forgotten product ever… either it was gifted to you or your fit in the I-travel-a-lot-and-read-a-ton-of-books niche. The B&W experience with pauses between page flips was worth it to you (or some sucker) for a couple hundred bucks.

The NYTimes created and released their Times Reader 2.0 that even syncs to your TV or something… I really don’t know the details, because, like many of you, it did not resonate and has been largely ignored. Sorry, Google Reader and many, many others still win.

We’ve heard of the legendary eInk flexible paper that will breathe life into newspapers by dumping the cost of newsprint. And at CES we got a glimpse at Hearst‘s flexible paper. Hearst innovate while trying to please its shareholders? Um, probably not.

And, hopefully by now, we’ve all seen the Sports Illustrated‘s demo video of what their tablet could do. It’s a neat concept, but being jaded from print journalism’s track record, I doubt we will invest in a smart, creative staff that will really take advantage of this new form… shareholders may not understand the potential.

Yes, it’s all pretty much been hype or mediocre at best.

Wasn’t this going to be a positive post? What changed?

</haterpants>

I saw the video by WIRED magazine displaying their Adobe Air iPad-zine… it was not a concept, but an actual working, beautiful magazine in all its digital-multi-touch glory. It worked! No clip art, static hand guiding me through the potential interface like SI’s.

But it’s just a video right?

If it were any other magazine, I’d roll my eyes… but it being WIRED this crazy idea just might work.

Look at their print product. Fantastic, insightful content wrapped in elegantly designed and laid out pages. It’s clear that they value and are focused on a reader experience that last more than minutes. Readers don’t recycle their issues or line their bird cages pages… well, normally.

Look at their deadlines. They are not producing the daily miracle or nightly newscast or templated site. They have time to craft a product for every edition. (The only folks with more multimedia friendly deadlines are museums!)

That deadline schedule and WIRED’s creatively is a powerful mix when translating it to a digital, interactive tablet experience… and in the capable hands of a creative staff, it makes iPad-zines worth your time and, more importantly, your money.

The presentation of content in this form taps into two things the Web has not really mastered:

> Serendipitous browsing. Meaning, flipping through pages and seeing what jumps out at you as you scan for stories to read have more going for them that an SEO-friendly headline.

> The beauty of the boardsheet. Print newspapers, but especially magazines, are not tied to templates because they have time to create an engaging layout. The limitations of space for their content, gives them a finite number of pages to work on.

I just finished seeing WIRED present their product at SXSWi (see live stream clips) and they up’ed it even more by demoing their iPad-zine on a Nexus One and iPhone… meaning, it’s not just an iPad-zine, but iPhone-zine, Nexus One-zine and so on… they are still not sure about their revenue structure, but they are hoping to bring life back into the journalism subscription model.

And, with a product like that, I’d pay.

Let’s hope we don’t mess it up! Let’s hope we invest in a creative, smart staff and give them the freedom to do their jobs. Let’s hope the content and vision outweighs the bottomline of the shareholders… or at least hope the shareholders give it a chance.

It’s going to be a big year for digital journalism. The tablets are coming, the tablets are coming! And so is the opportunity to create an engaging experience with our readers. And maybe some money too.


BONUS

And who is really behind this creative opportunity? Meet Condé Nast. They own WIRED and many other magazines… but don’t judge them by their Web site.

Other tablet demos

IKEA | http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yIGd4aBzhTU

Mag+ | http://vimeo.com/8217311

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