NEW YORK (AdAge.com) — Wired magazine has introduced its much-anticipated iPad edition, a slick $4.99 app that was built by Adobe in a 10-month development process despite Apple’s midstream ban on software written with Adobe Flash. Adobe wound up writing the code in Objective-C, an Apple-approved language.At first look, the app, an enhanced version of the June issue, appears to push magazines further toward their potential on tablet computers. That’s partly because the graphics that play a big part in Wired’s print edition lend themselves to interaction and animation, but the app also introduces some elements that other magazines can readily adopt.
Readers can slide their fingers on certain pages to see a Lego Lamborghini assembled nearly brick by brick, for example, or to rotate Mars and pull up information on the spacecraft that have landed at different spots on its surface. Video could show the same progressions, but touch control seems more involving.
Readers can also touch the cover to start a video clip from “Toy Story 3,” the subject of the cover story, or touch cover lines to go directly to the appropriate story. If readers return to the app after closing it, it remembers where they left off, even within an article.
40-one of the issue’s 61 editorial pieces include some interactive element, by Wired’s count.
Conde Nast’s parallel tracks
The app from Wired delivers on the second of two parallel development efforts begun last year by its publisher, Conde Nast, when the impending arrival of tablet computers became clear. The first effort has yielded iPhone and iPad apps for GQ and Vanity Fair.
But Conde also wanted to work with Adobe on a tool that would plug into Adobe’s InDesign publishing software, which the company and many other publishers already use.
“Adobe has delivered on its promise,” said Tom Wallace, editorial director at Conde Nast. “We look forward to working with them as far as the eye can see.”
Where it trails others
In some areas, though, the Wired app lags behind other magazines’ iPad editions. Web links kick readers out to the iPad’s web browser instead of opening a browser within the app the way the apps for titles including GQ and Men’s Health do. And readers can’t post to Twitter or Facebook from within the issue, something Men’s Health and its Rodale sibling Women’s Health already offer. Wired plans to address all that soon.
The iPad edition is a larger file than most partly because it includes video and other extras in its initial download, which lets video play faster and allows people to use it even when the iPad doesn’t have a Wi-Fi or 3G signal, said Scott Dadich, creative director at Wired. The Vanity Fair and GQ apps, in contrast, don’t download video until readers touch the play button, and therefore require a signal to access those elements.
Wired’s app includes nine of the premium iPad ads that Conde Nast only sells to advertisers who buy multiple ad pages in print. A Fidelity ad lets readers bring up “10 Innovations for Investors” one at a time; an ad for HBO’s “True Blood” lets readers poke around to display a variety of photos and information. Wired Publisher Howard Mittman declined to say how many extra print ad pages Wired sold using the iPad ad inventory as a lure, but the multi-page requirement means advertisers had to collectively buy at least 18 print ad pages in order to buy the nine premium positions. Some might have run multiple pages in the issue anyway, but it seems likely that Wired secured extra ad pages with the tactic.
Not measuring reader interaction
Wired can’t yet track how many people interact with the ads or particular editorial; it’s waiting on feedback from Apple before tackling that area, executives said.
It will be a while before magazines either confirm or contradict their hope that consumers will buy tablet editions in significant numbers. GQ has roughly sold a total of 63,000 iPad or iPhone editions, including all the available issues, Conde said Tuesday, up from about 57,000 one week earlier. That’s pretty good for a new platform but a shadow of GQ’s print sales, which averaged 192,000 copies on the newsstand in the most recent reporting period, according to the Audit Bureau of Circulations. GQ also reported more than 680,000 print subscribers in that period; magazines have yet to start offering subscriptions to their iPad editions.
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