Magazines' Wishful Thinking On Pricing iPad Apps; "I Will Not Pay $5 Per Issue"

ABC ipad appABC’s iPad app is the No. 2 most-downloaded free app.

There’s good news and bad news about the gaggle of media apps that debuted in Apple’s iPad store this Saturday. The good news: Some of them are racing up the Top 25 most-downloaded list of paid and free apps including, according to the Wall Street Journal:

  • Netflix
  • Walt Disney’s ABC
  • Associated Press
  • New York Times
  • NPR
  • The Wall Street Journal
  • BBC News
  • Bloomberg
  • USA Today
  • Time magazine
  • Popular Science 

But here’s some bad news: As MediaWeek tells us, some users think pricing for magazines on the iPad are too, well, pricey.

A single Time magazine costs $4.99 on the iPad, while readers can get 56 print issues for $20 or find most of the content online for free. Bonnier’s Popular Science is also priced at $4.99. Conde Nast’s GQ costs $2.99 per issue.

“This is the future of magazines. This is how I want all of my magazines,” one user commented in the iTunes store. “But I will not pay $5 per issue.”

Some other media critics agree.

Sara Öhrvall, director of research & development at Popular Science’s Bonnier Corp., told MediaWeek: “We’ll prove to them it’s worth the $4.99 over time.”

But will magazines have to give in to a digital economy that is used to cheaper content?

As Paul Miller at Endgadget points out, that 99-cent iPhone app pricing may have been cheap — but it worked.

“It’s hard to regret a $0.99 app. Even if you play with it for 15 minutes and then give up, you shrug your shoulders and say, ‘oh well, that was a nice bit of fun.’ But with a $9.99 or $14.99 app, you really expect greatness. If the app doesn’t deliver (and trust us, most of the apps we’ve seen so far for the iPad aren’t worth half the price), you feel burned. You resent the app, you resent the developer, you resent yourself, and you even resent the iPad itself.”

As Journal points out, CNN is the only news app on the iPhone that cracks into the top-100 paid apps. At spot No. 58, it costs $1.99.

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