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Time Inc.’s Tablet Push Starts With Time Mag App At $4.99 An Issue

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Sports Illustrated has been the Time Inc. (NYSE: TWX) tablet poster child for months but Time is first to market with an app. Time for iPhone is free but iPad Time runs $4.99 an issue, same as the newsstand price and available on Fridays. That’s not a misprint although some users might be confused by the concept of a weekly app purchase when most paid iPhone apps, and so far, most iPad apps come with one-time fees or, in some cases, annual fees. The pricing varies wildly from the Kindle edition, which runs $2.99 a month but lacks multimedia and other extras.

The new app, developed with the Wonderfactory as was the SI version and Dutch company WoodWing, bears a strong resemblance to the magazine and includes the full text of the U.S. edition but adds elements like a live news feed; video; slide shows; text zoom; and content from international editions.

Like the print edition, it’s supported by dual revenue streams; launch advertisers include Fidelity, Korean Air, Liberty Mutual, Lexus, Toyota and Unilever. Unlike the print edition, it can be read in landscape or portrait. More details on its FAQ site.

Time Inc.’s Monica Ray was on a panel I moderated for the MPA last month and said SI should be next. She also warned against counting on users to pay for content that’s free elsewhere, telling fellow publishers to think through their paid and free content strategy. Ray expects to see fewer free apps once that happens. Given that Time‘s own iPhone app is free — and includes multimedia as well — and that it has a free mobile site with an iPad-optimized version, it’s hard to imagine Time is counting on many single-issue sales of its iPad edition.