Condé Nast’s Experiment: The iPhone App Store As Virtual Newsstand


As Condé Nast tries to move beyond its restructuring issues, the company is pushing ahead with several attempts to ramp up its digital business. In conjunction with the December GQ “Man of The Year” cover, the publisher will sell app version of the entire issue, including the same ads and articles, in the iPhone App Store, the company told paidContent.

Clearly, Condé Nast hopes that more than reproducing its magazine in digital form, it can reproduce the kinds of circulation and ad dollars that print has commanded for so long. So far, the GQ app has gotten the nod from the Audit Bureau of Circulations, which says that sales of the e-reader version qualify for the mags rate base. That means in ABC’s eyes, downloading the for $2.99 will count the same as a buying a $4.99 copy of GQ at the newsstand.

Assuming its approved by Apple (NSDQ: AAPL) in time, the GQ app will pop up in the App Store on Nov. 18, the same day the issue hits newsstands. The GQ app will include audio and video and an e-commerce function. Condé Nast is proceeding cautiously with the e-reader app; Sarah Chubb, Condé Nast Digital’s president, told paidContent that the publisher will wait to see how users and advertisers respond before announcing a similar rollout for its other mags.

GQ’s sales team is still selling additional spots for the app, Chubb said. The ability to do print upsells as well as subscriptions through the iPhone and iPod Touch is what makes Apple such an appealing partner, she said. “On top of all that, Apple allows publishers to maintain control of its customers’ data, which is very important to us, and it’s not something everybody does” Chubb said, alluding to Amazon’s Kindle, which has irked publishers with its lack of advertising and what some consider to be a lopsided subscription revenue sharing regime. “Secondly, the color and aesthetic of the iPhone is considered a pretty good match to the Condé Nast readers the publisher and its advertisers want to reach,” she added.

The GQ app has been in the works for about three months. When held horizontally, the app closely resembles the page-for-page look of the mag. There’s also a built a browser into the app, so users can, for example, flip a photo over and identify the designer or marketer. They can then decide if they want to click a button and purchase the item being shown. “There’s a section called The Manual, which teaches you how to buy a suit,” Chubb said. “Users can look at individual slideshows and zoom in. That’s something you can’t do with a mag, obviously, and its a perfect way of marrying the best experiences of digital and print. We’re currently exploring four other ways of digitally distributing our content and this is one good example of our thinking.”

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