Wired on iPad gets another update, but magazine subs still MIA

Another month, another Wired iPad app update. So what'd we get this time? The August issue is available for downloading, still at $3.99 (I was hoping for another price cut). They also advertise "Feature Enhancements" (nothing at all vague about that) and "Download issues addressed" but the most important addition is the ability to delete issues once you're finished with them.

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It's good to see the app improve every month; it still feels like one of the 'poster children' for digital magazines on tablets. For next month, how about a book mark system? If I'm reading a particular article in the July issue, then stop to flip through the August issue, when I go back to July there's no sense of where I left off, and the table of contents that you use to jump around in the issue is crazy long. One recent issue had over 60 items in the table of contents and the first feature article didn't turn up until about 50 spots down the ToC (it's because all those short third- or quarter-page stories from the print mag are broken up into 3-4 separate ToC listings). Of course the big question is still: when are we going to see subscriptions? For insight into that question we have to leave Wired behind and look at Time, Inc. Last week saw a few posts about Time's struggle to get a subscription system in place for Sports Illustrated. Apparently Time submitted a subscription-supporting app that it thought was following a model similar to that of the Wall Street Journal, but Apple rejected it. All Things Digital says Time, Inc. execs "have been going nuts" trying to work out a way to offer a subscription plan, and apparently Apple isn't all that interested in even talking to them, let alone finding some way to accomplish subscriptions that satisfies both Apple and Time. For more details, see FolioMag's piece on the topic. Folio quotes Marcus Grimm, marketing director at NXTbook Media:

The Apple process says, ‘If you do anything special with tracking, please let us know ahead of time so we can guide you’ and we wrote a long e-mail about what we wanted to track and why, and their response was, ‘We won't comment until you submit the app.’ We’re developing according to how we think they'll react but that’s not really a business partnership. You just read the spec guide and say a prayer.”

This is the kind of Apple behavior that is going to drive the market to Android tablets if they don't change their ways (for a similar story check out VentureBeat's piece on PlayOn's difficulties getting an app through the approval process). Apple's business model sounds like a level of bureaucracy right out of a Dickens novel, but there's probably nothing amusing about it when you're trying to make a living while dealing with their ludicrous procedures. For now, they have us all by the throat: the iPad still has no serious competition. That won't hold true for long. In the long run, we may find out that it's Android, and not Apple, that saves magazines.

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