Last week, the Wired iPad app hit the App Store, and here it is just a few days later and Adobe is ready to invite everyone to the party. They've announced the Digital Publishing Platform which will become part of their Creative Suite 5. The idea seems to be that anyone who knows and uses Adobe inDesign can now publish their content in an 'electronic magazine' format that adhere's to Apple's licensing terms.
I'd be more excited about this if the Wired app was more impressive. What we got after a long wait was a bloated app (550 megs) with anemic interactivity (see my thoughts in more detail). Now in all fairness, this was Adobe and Conde Nast's first issue and it is likely that future issues will get better. Likewise one can safely assume the tools themselves will get better. I'm hoping for some granularity. A good chunk of the 550 megs that the Wired app took up was no doubt video. Why do we have to pre-load all that data? Why not have it background download while we read the issue? And once we've watched it, why do we have to keep it on our device? Let's us tap a "Done with this content" button and have it deleted, freeing up space. And yet even if Adobe tweaks the tools to offer this kind of selective downloading of content, I can't help but imagine a future where many print publishers simply create the equivalent of iPad Shovelware: taking their existing assets, printing them to this digital format and hoping they'll sell. It'll be up to consumers to decide if this is a winning or losing business plan. At the same time, you have to give Adobe credit for scrambling to hold on to their leadership position with many publishing customers. As Wired themselves said on their website:
So, at the last minute, Adobe has managed somehow to abide by Apple’s content-creation dictum and in so doing restore its leverage among a large installed base of commercial users of their development suite as a viable on-ramp into the iPad.
In theory I like the idea of tablet-friendly editions of magazines; I just hope that the Wired app isn't establishing de facto standards that other publishers follow. Magazine apps need to be smaller, cheaper, and more interactive. Pick any two and I'd be happy. The Wired app is an interesting start but Adobe and Conde Nast need to improve the design quickly, and then Adobe needs to fold those improvements into whatever tools it offers its Creative Suite 5 customers