I’ve tried a few content apps on the iPad, including the much discussed Wired app. But I don’t like reading content via apps on the iPad and I gravitate to the Safari browser.
There are a bunch of reasons I feel this way and I thought I’d articulate them:
1) many of the apps treat pages as monolithic objects. you can’t cut and paste text, you can’t engage with the content. it is just like reading a magazine or a newspaper. if i wanted to read a magazine or newspaper in physical form, i’d do that.
2) as Bijan points out this morning, there are no links to other content apps in mobile apps.
3) i can keep multiple pages open in the browser, just like i do on my laptop. it’s what i’ve gotten used to. you can’t currently multi-task apps although i suspect apple will change that soon.
4) i don’t like the various different user interfaces i have to get to know. i am used to the web browser interface. i know where everything is. if there was one standard magazine app UI and one standard newspaper app UI, i might feel differently. but for now, i can’t be bothered learning a new UI for every piece of content i want to consume.
5) web is free, apps are often paid. it’s not really about the actual money to me. it is about the transactional overhead and the principal of it. why would i pay for something i can get for free?
6) most of the content apps don’t connect to social media. i get most of my news from social media. i can click from twitter or facebook or digg to the web, but not to content apps. and many apps don’t let me share content with social media.
7) you can’t search content apps for what you are looking for with google.
8) content apps are the anti-aggregator. i’ve come to rely on smart aggregators like techmeme, hacker news, etc to show me what i need to be reading. content apps are dedicated destinations that don’t allow for aggregation.
I understand why content companies are so interested in iPad apps. It is a familiar model to them. But as currently configured most content apps do not take advantage of the power of the digital medium. And so they are mostly useless to me.
Fred Wilson is a partner at Union Square Ventures. He writes the influential
, where this post was originally published.