The Economist has got around to releasing an iPad (and iPhone) edition (expected Friday). Built by TigerSpike, which also built The Times’ Eureka iPad app, it contains all the print magazine’s material, in a UI that, whilst reminscent of the dead tree edition, is customised for the tablet.
The model – included free for £102-a-year print-and-website subscribers and for £99-a-year web-only subscribers, or £3.49/$5.99/€4.99 per single copy. That’s cheaper than the print single-copy price. But the initial app download is free and includes five free articles.
Unlike other iPad mags, The Economist is eschewing interactive bells and whistles, sticking with its sobre writing – but articles, perhaps strangely, are accompanied by an audio version, for listening rather than reading.
And unlike some newspaper publishers like News Corp (NSDQ: NWS). The Economist is not seeing tablets as a future foil against shrinking print sales, because its print circulation is still rising and rising.
“We’re coming at this from a slightly different place from the news industry, which is facing much more violent challenges to print,” Economist digital editions managing director Oscar Grut tells paidContent:UK. “Our print product continues to be very popular and growing – I don’t see this as a defensive move at all.
“Despite a lot of turmoil in the publishing market, we have done well because we have this very convenient weekly bundle that has a start and a finish. That bundle has, until now, been very difficult – if not impossible – to replicate on digital. But now the rise of digital readers you can give that reading experience on a digital device and you can deliver the bundle. We see that as exciting and as a way to grow our circulation even more.
“In three years time, I’m targeting a million people who will be paying to read us mainly in digital” – across digital formats.
Grut says the “lean-forward, grazing experience” of the web has meant Economist.com’s strategy has been more heavy on discussion and debate and, therefore, hasn’t cannibalised the print edition. He says he wants the mag to hit Android in the near future.
“We had to introduce a whole new production flow to The Economist,” Grut added. “We were very keen to get this all right before we launched.”