Updated: Newsstand's Few Early Adopters Have Stolen A March On Laggards

Magazine and news publishers who have not yet joined iOS Newsstand have lost out to the system’s early adopters, according to research data.

“As of the end of October, 8% of apps tracked had migrated to the Newsstand,” says McPheters & Company‘s The State Of The App, a monthly digest compiled from its iMonitor, a premium database which tracks 4,000 tablet and mobile news apps in English-speaking and western European countries.

“It has without question contributed to substantial increases in volume for those publishers who have chosen to migrate. Publications heavily promoted on the Newsstand have reported sales 2.5 to 10 times higher than previous levels.

“Those who have not moved – such as Time Inc. (NYSE: TWX) titles in the U.S. – have seen declines in downloads relative to other publishers.”

Company founder Rebecca McPheters explained to paidContent:

“In the U.S. app store, the number of publications among the top 200 highest grossing apps overall increased substantially. But the Time Inc. apps, which are not in the Newsstamd, lost position to those that had migrated to the Newsstand.

“Since only about 8% had moved at the end of October, there was considerably less competition in the Newsstand, affording greater visibility to those who were there.”

It stands to reason that, relative to a shiny new fast-growing thing, hold-outs appear to be languishing. But that doesn’t mean their actual volume has reversed. It just means Newsstand has been very successful for its early adopters themselves.

Newsstand’s main benefits are overnight downloading, which is a dream, and supposedly enhanced discovery, which is questionable. What we may have witnessed is success attained by titles being in their own special retail adjunct, some of which were granted favourable promotion by Apple (NSDQ: AAPL). If more publications go in to Newsstand, the economy within may normalise.

From September to October, which incorporated two weeks of Newsstand figures, McPheters says the number of publications apps amongst the Top 200 Highest Grossing across iTunes Store grew from 34 to 59.

Here are the early publisher gains we have reported at paidContent:

  • Exact Editions: Downloads of freemium sample editions jumped by 14x in just a few days, whilst some titles’ actual sales more than doubled.
  • Future: Free taster mag apps (previously unavailable as iOS apps) downloaded more than two million times in three days, “consumer spending well in excess of normal monthly revenues”. Digital magazine sales +750 percent because Future added 55 new iOS apps to iTunes.
  • Guardian: 145,880 week-one downloads for its debut iPad app through Newsstand.
  • Metro: 155,000 downloads in first 11 days for new app, 800,000 to 1 million daily page views.
  • Condé Nast: Weekly subscription sales across all nine digital editions +268 percent compared with previous eight weeks, single-copy sales +142 percent.
  • Condé Nast Britain: GQ +94%, Wired +169% and Vanity Fair +245% in October compared to September’s daily average sales pre-iOS 5.
  • New York Times: New weekly iPad downloads up from 27,000 to 189,000 in week after Newsstand launch. iPhone downloads up 85x from 21,000 to 1.8 million.
  • Zinio CEO: “If you measure by revenue, (Newsstand) hasn’t had any impact. In fact, it’s gone up.”

Update (Nov 23, 2011): Time Inc makes clear to paidContent: “Ours is an All Access strategy. We don’t strive to sell digital only subscriptions, and we don’t sell digital only on Apple, which is why we are not on Newsstand.”

But McPheters tells us: “Time Inc titles declined in the gross dollar rankings as others that went behind the newsstand went up. Regardless of their strategy, this was the result.”

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