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January 14, 2009

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iPhone Magazine?

We’ve built up some good media-thinking momentum here lately, so help me out with a gut-check:

Imagine a well-packaged little “magazine” for the iPhone and iPod Touch. It would be free or $0.99. In an “issue,” it would have a short story, a video, something with sound, a gallery of great photography, and a mini-game or two. All formatted specifically and cleverly for the device. In my head, the issues aren’t dated, but themed: more Radiolab than The Economist.

Does this sound like:

  1. an interesting use of a fundamentally new medium! And come to think of it, it would be fun to read/watch/play such a thing waiting in line for coffee in the morning. Or,

  2. a cruel throwback to mid-90s CD-ROM “magazines,” exemplifying the worst of old media: No links! You can’t print it out! Why is it stuck on this tiny, tiny screen??!

I’m especially interested in hearing from members of the snarkmatrix who actually own iPhones and iPods. Can you credibly imagine yourself finding out about such a thing — let’s say I had recommended one here, for instance! — and then downloading and using it?

Posted January 14, 2009 at 12:21 | Comments (14) | Permasnark
File under: Media Galaxy


My gut says this would be a throwback to the CD-ROM era, but I'd be willing to give it a shot. In order to make it work, you'd really have to take advantage of the iPhone capabilities. Answer the question "what do I get with this iPhone magazine that I couldn't get by visiting a Web page using the iPhone's browser?"

I'd be willing to check out an "issue" if you recommended it here. Whether I'd subscribe or purchase follow-up issues would depend totally on my experience with the first issue.

Instead: serial interactive fiction. Manga meets Monkey Island.

Why not a hybrid model -- free, ad-supported for your web-browser, and 99 cents to download and be yours forever on your iPhone (maybe with some extra phone-specific content -- the mini-games).

It seems like at least SOME people are willing to buy TV shows on iTunes that they could watch free with ads on Hulu (or whatever) -- portability + permanence = worth the price.

A sweet spot for this sort of thing may not be "iPhone-specific" but "iPhone-optimized" content. It's made to work on your portable device, but it's not tethered to it.

One thing I like about the iPhone is that it lets you develop a total, focused experience. The same is true of video game consoles and, to a degree, desktop apps, but definitely *not* true of websites anymore. On the web, you're always just one tab among many. You can't have the whole screen. You can't have my full attention.

So, while there's no doubt that more & more content should be iPhone-optimized, I am wondering about iPhone-specific content in this case.

And, as Adrian says, it really does need to justify its iPhone-specificity... although I think some of that justification might have as much to do w/ a total, focused experience as with, say, the accelerometer.

Books are still so great b/c you can curl up with them and get lost. Gameboys, too! I feel like maybe you could curl up and get lost with an iPhone...

Wilson: manga / Monkey Island. YES.

I heard on Monday from an iPhone user who likes to read in bed that the accelerometer always messes him up when he lays sideways. The text is always parallel to the ground, but sometimes you're parallel to the ground too.

HA! I *love* that. Love it.

That's funny, I was just thinking this the other day. My answer is definitely yes. Something about magazines feels so clunky now, so wasteful.

I was also wondering recently if the concept of the magazine is tied to paper - i.e. if you had a colour Kindle and you had Wired formatted like the print version, would it feel different from visiting the website. I'd say yes, but I dunno' why. Maybe it's what you said though - that the screen is so much less malleable than one on a computer.

Although reader on the iphone is well done, i tend to prefer reading news on my comptuer, since i can skim through stuff more quickly.
But, if you can make content that is formatted for, and made more iPhone specific, i think it would work well. Also something that is a little more limited in length - a bus/train ride's worth of content vs. an issue of a magazine. If it's going to take much longer than that to read, I personally prefer to read it on a PC, with a bigger screen that requires less constant page scrolling.

As for the lying down + accelerometer issue, i have that problem too! Apps should have a setting that enables and disables the orientation switch so that you can put it in an orientation, lock it that way to read, and then unlock it when you are no longer lying down. I'm surprised nobody has done it yet.

+2 kevin! (+1 for each paragraph)

Here is what I do with my iPhone on muni: (seriously). I open google reader, and hit "add more" 5 or 6 times so that it preloads 100 or 130 items. Then I can scroll through them offline (ie underground). It works, but I get no images, I can't star/share, and it doesn't mark read. I would love an offline accessable, thought provoking, bite-size content morsel for my iPhone/android. Interactive definitely, rich media perhaps, but text/photo focused (or subcaptioned) if I want to listen to music.

Like a next generation podcast?

Ps: speaking of weird annoying iPhone issues, anyone have a bookmarklet to disable the autorefresh issue that screws me up when I follow a link in google reader and then want to go back and share but then it reloads and it's marked read so I can't find it? Didn't think so...

My gut says I'd rather stick with my personalized mix of blogs via Google Reader. Why would I subscribe to a magazine if I had already compiled my own reliable sources for anything I would want from it?

If you can answer that question, I'm in.

Some thinking about what a post-print magazine might look like: (which seems to be timing out at the moment, so here's a copy - )

I'm not even willing to talk about this unless you're actually doing it and I'm in on it.

Good call, Gav. No more rhetorical exercises!

Hahahahaha! Hey, why do you think I'm asking these questions? ;-)

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