Bloomberg BusinessWeek could not have picked a better time to launch its iPad app. A year after a major overhaul following the sale from McGraw Hill, the latest Publishers Information Bureau figures had BBW’s ad pages up 49 percent, a significant turnaround from several quarters of improving, though weak, numbers. Print subscribers will get the app version for free, while non-subs will be charged $2.99 a month for access — a pretty good deal, considering a single newsstand issue goes for $4.99.
BBW is confident that $2.99 is a pretty attractive price. So much so, it’s not offering Bloomberg BusinessWeek+ as an annual iPad subscription — which at $2.99 a month, would cost about $35.88 for a year — nor is it selling single copies in app. BBW is running a 26-week print special now for $20.
A number of publishers have been griping about Apple’s unwillingness to share consumer data related to its app, as well restrictions on iPad subscriptions preventing publishers from directing readers to a browser or some other means for completing a transaction. Additionally, publishers who accept Apple’s subscription policy require in-app purchase offers to be extended at the same price as the same offer made elsewhere.
None of these issues is a problem for BBW, Oke Okaro, Bloomberg’s global head of mobile told paidContent. “We are very pleased with Apple’s terms,” he said in a recent interview. As for being able to glean more information about their readers — something magazine publishers value highly, as it gives them more details with which to attract advertisers and build circulation — Okaro said that there will be a lot opportunities through things like reader surveys to get users to share information willingly.
The app has a number of interesting features that other magazine and newspaper apps would do well to emulate. Apart from the de rigueur social media aspects such as sharing via Twitter and Facebook, each issue packs a lot into its relatively slim 30 megs, which also means that it shouldn’t take 15 minutes to download a single issue. New editions will be regularly released Thursday nights at 10 p.m. ET. One of the most useful aspects is the ability to search across issues that are “live” on the app by company or keyword; readers also can virtually “clip” and save articles.
Bloomberg’s two main goals are to preserve and expand the print readership, but also appeal to newer, younger readers who prefer to do their reading digitally. “We see the website as something more for breaking news, while the app is more like the experience of the magazine,” Okaro said. “We recognize that there is overlap among the audience for all versions of BBW and that’s reflected in this app. We’re simply looking at where our audience is going and we’re following.”
In addition to new readers, BBW is also aiming for new advertisers. The app has several rich media ads from existing advertisers. But it also sports a new advertiser, digital content management provider NetApp, as the app’s “Platinum Sponsor.”
Why wait more than a year after the Apple (NSDQ: AAPL) device first hit the store shelves? The Bloomberg strategy was to get the print issue settled and then build out the other versions. Okaro wouldn’t get into the timeline for releasing other versions of the new BBW + app but that is part of phase two. “The iPad is the most important place to be right now, and that’s where we’re focused.”