Posted by Tom Foremski - January 2, 2011
Laura June at Engadget reports:
According to the Audit Bureau of Circulations, which collects magazine circulation data from companies willing to furnish numbers, all iPad magazines have seen fall offs in downloads over the past few months. Wired was averaging 31,000 downloads from July through September, had 22,000 and 23,000 respectively in October and November. Other magazines have seen similar declines: Vanity Fair sold 8,700 downloads of its November issue, down from an average of about 10,500 from August through October; GQ sold 11,000 copies, its worst showing yet.
This is bad news for publishers. And it indicates that iPad magazines benefited from a novelty factor but that that novelty soon wore off.
What's puzzling is that iPad sales have been soaring all year; you would expect a rise in magazine subscriptions just based on the percentage of rising iPad sales. Yet we don't see this at all.
This seems to indicate that the early adopters are the ones that would try out iPad subscriptions first, since by definition they are early adopters; but as the iPad moved into a more mainstream audience there would be a lower take up since this is a different market.
It might also indicate that there has been little follow up marketing. I remember the buzz around the first iPad magazines but I've come across little since then.
So is this downward trend a marketing failure or a platform failure?
Do people want to consume their magazines on an iPad? It seems not.
Here are some other views on the iPad magazine failure:
Frédéric Filloux writing at Monday Note:
Don't expect a wide adoption for the e-version of a magazine (or a newspaper) priced at the same level as the paper version. The pricing structure for online news content begins to emerge. In its recent report (PDF here), the Pew Research Center released data consistent with most publishers' estimations. People who regularly buy content on the net are willing to spend about $10 a month, which could translate to a yearly ARPU of $100-$120.
If you thing that's small, just consider the ARPU of advertising supported websites: very few are above the $10/year water line.
Here os Bradford writing on Measuring Measures:
...together with the new needs for social and design, again points to the need for media companies to refocus their efforts on their core competency; journalism.
This also points to the need for new platforms that allow these media companies to syndicate their content. Proliferation of individual apps or channels is not the new model. Google/Yahoo news isn't the new model - they've been surpassed by Facebook already. Community sites like Digg and Reddit are not even in the running.
The good news for media is that when they embraces the new model, I think they will make far more money than they ever have in the past due to the combination of broader distribution and better targeting leading to larger ad revenues.