Mark Wood, UK magazine publisher, knew that “The iPad is not the saviour of magazines”, the device has seemingly given the magazine industry not only a new platform but also a direction for the future.

In October 2011, Apple launched the Newsstand mobile app at the same time as former TV news chief Mark Wood became the new CEO of UK-based hobby-tech magazine publisher Future Plc. Wood decided to put 65 new titles into the new Newsstand in iTunes and achieved 10 million downloads in just a few months. It made them the leading worldwide publisher on Apple’s iPad.

Future was founded by TED guru Chris Anderson in 1985 and 27 years later it was able to report the sale of 12 million iPad apps and 500,000 digital magazines in 2011. Finally, the increasing digital growth started to make up for losses in the hard copy area.

While Future were very quick and likely one of the first magazine publishers to move into iPad editions, they were far from the only company to do so. US and UK based magazines are loving the iPad and the way in which the device can be used to package information in a beautiful yet useful way. On the one hand The Economist predicts that within 2 years 70 percent of the magazine’s subscriptions will be digital, similar to Reader’s Digest forecast that their digital sales will exceed hard copy prints this year already. On the other hand, newspapers have also started creating iPad apps for their business, including The Times and The Financial Times who both have a vast amount of digital subscriptions, mostly from new customers. Felix Dennis of The Week even claimed that their 100,000 downloads of the magazine were achieved with ‘zero impact’ on the subscription growth of hard copy editions.

In addition, the iTunes Newsstand gave publishers the opportunity to easily make revenue internationally. Especially the specialist magazines have had great success in boosting their numbers abroad, including Future’s T3 magazine which had 48 percent of its 25,500 monthly iPad editions sold outside the UK.

Minimal Risk for Companies

The great thing is that launching iPad magazine apps is a very low-risk move as there are few expenses in creating a digital magazine – since magazines are printed from a digital copy anyway. This adds excitement for magazine companies as it gives the opportunity to try something new with risking to lose a lot of money if it happens to not work out as anticipated.

The risk seems minimal in any case though, as the Newsstand is starting to have a similar impact on the magazine industry as iTunes itself has already had on the music industry. The iPad app economy has been changed dramatically by magazine apps, as in the US 9 out of the 10 highest grossing iPad apps are those of magazines. This has increased the visibility of magazine brands, as 34 out of the top 50 iPad apps are magazines, leading to a new study that showed tablet and e-reader owners spend 50 percent more time reading magazines than the general public.

What about content?

While the possibilities of having an iPad app is a great new possibility for magazine companies, there are also some new challenges that need to be thought about. While the internet and mobile apps helped the magazine market by providing a new direction to travel in, it also provides many new ways to find out the information that is provided in magazines. Celebrity news, for example, can often be found on social networks including Twitter and Facebook for free. The content of digital magazines in therefore especially important. Some magazines, including the Cosmopolitan, stick to the hard copy layout when creating a digital edition. Duncan Edwards, Hearst’s international magazines chief, said at a recent conference in London: “People thought we’d re-imagine the magazine to take advantage of the technology behind the device but consumers prefer the replica version and, in reality, we’re much better at doing this.” On the other hand, magazines such as Future believe that “Consumers are becoming more demanding – they want exciting editions.” Mark Wood believes that iPad editions of magazines will soon involve video clips and other ‘rich media’ that will push technical boundaries of iPad app developers and make reading digital magazines more exciting for consumers.

Advertising is another issue. While advertising in print media gets 25 percent of all adspend, it only accounts for 7 percent of the time consumers spend on media in general. Advertising will therefore becoming even more of a challenge when it comes to digital copies, especially as they will be published around the world. Not only will it be challenging to find the right advertisers for digital magazines but it appears that many advertisers are still skeptical of the potential of digital media. Especially in the UK it will be a problem convincing advertisers to invest in magazines, as the ABC audit body refuses digital and hard copy readership scores to be combined to the total number of the brand’s audience.

How do I get started?

Overall though, while there’s enough to think about when it comes to iPad apps for magazine businesses, the potential is far greater than the risk. So why not rent your iPad today and start getting your brand ready for the iPad. Whether you’re a magazine or any other brand, get in touch with us today and we’ll be able to help show you how to get YOUR brand ready for the digital future. Just call +44 0207 749 7242 or 0207 749 7200 or contact us by email on