When Apple does eventually get around to shipping the iPad, which may not be as soon as many of us had hoped, we’ll at least have some good quality, familiar content to enjoy on the platform according to an internal announcement by Condé Nast as reported by the New York Times. Five well known magazine titles will be making the jump to the iPad shortly after it begins to appear on store shelves.
The titles in question are Wired, GQ (for which an iPhone app already exists), Vanity Fair, The New Yorker and Glamour. Video has already been making the rounds about what an iPad (and other tablet) based version of Wired will look like and how it will function. We’ll probably see something very similar from the others, although it will be interesting to see if each takes a different approach to the new medium.
The schedule for release of the above-mentioned titles is staggered, with the tablet version of GQ due in April to coincide with the iPad’s launch (if indeed Apple makes that date). Vanity Fair and Wired are said to then be following with a June release, and The New Yorker and Glamour are bringing up the rear with a much more vague summer timeframe for deployment. All of the magazines will reportedly be sold through iTunes, though Wired is planned as a multi-platform release, and Condé Nast is also involved in the multi-publisher project that aims to be “Hulu for magazines.”
When Apple introduced the iPad, it spent a lot of time talking about the iBookstore, and about its arrangement with book publishers to bring novels and non-fiction content to the platform. What it didn’t really mention at all was how periodicals would fit into this new device’s repertoire. As someone who takes full advantage of the Kindle’s magazine and newspaper subscription options, the absence of any such mention made me a little nervous.
The marquee value associated with these top Nast titles makes me feel a little bit better about the iPad’s future as a magazine reader. Sure, reading The New Yorker on my Kindle is fine, since its almost entirely about the text and not so much about images, but the potential the iPad holds for titles like National Geographic actually has my mouth watering. Especially as the platform matures and publishers move away from static content and towards innovative formats that take better advantage of the iPad’s special abilities.
The evolution of magazines into digital media won’t only affect users of the iPad, though. It’ll also help determine the winner in the brewing war between Adobe and Apple regarding Flash. Apple seems immovably set against using the tech on any of its iPhone OS-based devices, but Condé Nast and other publishers aren’t yet ready to completely cut off that avenue to consumer dollars. All Things Digital reports that they’ll explore both options until the picture of which is more viable becomes clear:
[I]n a conversation I had with Chuck Townsend last week, Condé’s CEO was more blunt: He can’t fully embrace the Wired version, which was created with Adobe’s (ADBE) help and uses Adobe’s Flash platform, unless Apple (AAPL) embraces Flash.
Condé will have “two parallel development tracks going until the relationship between Apple and Adobe is clear,” he told me Friday.
Until some kind of resolution is achieved, consumers will be the ones to suffer. The Wired iPad app will look much like the one we’ve seen in the video, with lots of rich content, but the other magazine titles being prepared will likely just be static versions of the originals until Condé sees the value in investing in Apple’s platform over Adobe’s. Personally, I think Jobs is right to deny Flash access, especially given the exciting new abilities HTML5 is giving to web content, so I’m willing to wait a while to see Flash fail. Does a magazine impasse affect your feelings on the subject either way?