According to MediaBuyerPlanner.com, Esquire (Hearst) and GQ (Conde Nast) magazines are now being offered in an iPhone edition. You can download them for $2.99 per issue.
This small step forward isn’t going to offset revenue losses from advertsing. Nor is it going to revolutionize the way people read magazines.
But it may evolutionize the way we read magazines and newspapers. It’s a small step but a great step.
GQ and Esquire are not alone. Time and BusinessWeek, among many others, have offered mobile websites – accessed through free iPhone and Blackberry apps. But the effort by Hearst and Conde Nast to monetize the use of smart phones is a step forward that the media need to take.
Is the effort any good? I don’t know. I’m a Blackberry user, and these brands aren’t available in a Blackberry version. So I can’t answer whether they’re worth $2.99 an issue. I don’t know how faithfully the print content is reproduced, or if it’s all re-jiggered for a better smart-phone experience than either magazine would seem to offer in its print edition.
But I’m anxious to give any such mobile publishing effort a test run. While people are wringing their hands over consumers’ unwillingness to pay for content, the research is starting to reverse. More and more surveys are showing the people have warmed up to the idea of paying for content.
I think the real problem is that when people need to know what that content would be. If you ask, for instance, “Would you read a newspaper on your smart phone?” most people are going to think of the newspaper they know, reduced to the size of a playing card. Who could be satisfied with that?
But I’m hoping GQ and Esquire will show us how their content can be repackaged and repurposed – providing one experience in print and another experience – different but just as fulfilling – on the smallest screen.
That’s where the next generation of media success will be found.