Arati Rao
Sep 23, 2010

Should Indian magazines get iPad versions?

It's a move that can give a fillip to an industry that desperately needs it is the common consensus, finds Arati Rao

Should Indian magazines get iPad versions?

When Wired magazine launched its iPad version in May 2010, a note by editor-in-chief Chris Anderson (available on their website) proclaimed, “The tablet is our opportunity to make the Wired we always dreamed of. It has all the visual impact of paper, enhanced by interactive elements like video and animated infographics. We can offer you a history of Mars landings that lets you explore the red planet yourself. We can take you inside Trent Reznor’s recording studio and let you listen to snippets of his work in progress. And we can show you exactly how Pixar crafted each frame of its new movie, Toy Story 3.”

Other publications like Time and Popular Mechanics have been quick to get into the iPad app game. The excitement about the new “saviour” and “life-preserver” of the magazine industry (as Apple’s new offering is often referred to), with all its potential to re-engage with readers, appears to be infectious. Nishant Padhiar, editor of Stuff and What Hi-Fi in India, said, “With raw material and distribution costs only on the rise, it has never made more sense to have your property on the iPad platform. In one form or the other, tablet versions of traditional print magazines are the future.”

Tarun Rai, chief executive officer of Worldwide Media, agreed, “The iPad has caught the imagination of people and can give an impetus to magazine readership. And it has an immediate revenue model in place. With the potential of embedding video content also the reader experience will only get enhanced. It is up to us in the magazine industry to make the most of these opportunities.”

Debates about the pricing of content rage on web forums and probably in boardrooms, but for Maheshwar Peri, president and publisher of Outlook India, the iPad represents the most potent and viable plan in digital publishing for magazines. “The iPad would help us leverage our quality content and help us distribute not just through the existing distribution models but open up many more customers who access content only through digital platforms, while still making them pay,” he said.

Ashish Bagga, chief executive officer of the India Today Group, believes that the strategy may be more useful for Indian brands with a global appeal like India Today “as most of the downloads and users are international”, and revenues would also be limited. However, the official launch of the iPad and other versions of the tablet PC in the country is a future that must be capitalised on. “Our personal experience on the iPad has been very heartening. We have had a tremendous response from the US and UK in just 21 days for India Today and Business Today even without any marketing or advertising push. We are also pleasantly surprised by the number of downloads from India inspite of the dollar pricing,” said Bagga.

With GQ having recently launched its BlackBerry application, Conde Nast India is clearly taking note of evolving tech-savviness in the country. However, Maya Hari, digital director of the company, says the enthusiasm does need to be tempered with some practicality; an iPad strategy may not be for everyone. “Magazines in India should evaluate who their audiences are to decide if an iPad strategy is right for them,” she said. “iPad in India is very much a premium device with an inviting and premium reading experience. iPad apps are expensive to create currently and will certainly work for some and not for others.”

Nishant Padhiar

 

Editor

 Nishant Padhiar, editor, Stuff/What Hi-Fi

“Media companies should not and cannot ignore the impact of the digital medium. Publishers have embraced the iPad platform with a surprising change in the fortunes of the magazines that have dedicated apps. With raw material and distribution costs only on the rise, it has never made more sense to have your property on the iPad platform. In one form or the other, tablet versions of traditional print magazines are the future.”

 

Ashish Bagga

 

Marketer

Ashish Bagga, CEO, India Today Group

“Currently the strategy maybe only useful for Indian brands with a global appeal like India Today as most of the downloads and users are international. And revenues will be limited. But going forward the iPad will be officially launched in India and a host of other cheaper tablets are on the horizon. We have had a tremendous response from the US and UK in just 21 days for India Today and Business Today even without any marketing or advertising push. We are also pleasantly surprised by the number of downloads from India inspite of the dollar pricing.”

Maheshwar Peri

Marketer

 Maheshwar Peri, president & publisher, Outlook India

“All these years, magazine publishers have struggled to work on a digital strategy that would also be commercially viable. iPad represents the most potent and viable plan in digital publishing for magazines. iPad would help us leverage our quality content and help us distribute not just through the existing distribution models but open up many more customers who access content only through digital platforms, while still making them pay. Surely, we would be working on an iPad strategy for our magazines.”

Maya Hari
Marketer

 

Maya Hari, digital director, Conde Nast India

 “Magazines in India should evaluate who their audiences are to decide if an iPad strategy is right for them. iPad in India is very much a premium device with an inviting and premium reading experience. Additionally, if a magazine has content sought after by audiences in markets where Apple has high penetration like the US, UK or Japan, having the content accessible on iPad is a good idea. iPad apps are expensive to create currently and will certainly work for some and not for others.”

Tarun Rai
Marketer

 

Tarun Rai, CEO, Worldwide Media

 “The short answer is yes. These are promising times for the magazine industry. Environmental factors, both on the economic and technological front, are positive. With devices like the mobile phone and more recently the iPad, the potential reach of magazine content will increase exponentially. And to a new, younger audience. The iPad has caught the imagination of people and can give an impetus to magazine readership. And it has an immediate revenue model in place. With the potential of embedding video content also the reader experience will only get enhanced.”


Source:
Campaign India

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