Even with 1 million or so iPads out there, no print publishers can lay claim to huge numbers of downloads yet. But among the few publishers that are giving out numbers, USA Today seems to be the big winner so far, with 371,213 downloads as of May 16.
The paper also said it ranks no. 1 in news apps and no. 12 in free apps on the Apple tablet.
It remains to be seen what will happen when the newspaper goes from a free app to a paid subscription model, as it said it would do July 4.
The New York Times was a close second, with more than 300,000 downloads of its free Editors’ Choice app. The app provides a sampling of two free pages of content.
The Wall Street Journal, meanwhile, has had about 230,000 downloads of its app and 100,000 regular users.
The WSJ app, which offers news updates, videos and market data, costs $3.99 per week but is being offered free to existing subscribers for a limited time.
For magazines, the iPad isn’t yet providing the lifeline they hoped for—which is perhaps not unexpected, given their aggressive pricing.
Two other publishers that were among the first to launch their brands on the iPad, Time Inc. and Rodale, wouldn’t share their numbers. But Bonnier’s Popular Science revealed that it sold more than 22,000 downloads of its April iPad issue.
That’s a small number compared with Pop Sci’s total circulation of 1.3 million, but at $4.99 per issue, it translates into nearly $110,000 in sales (back issues are available for $2.99 each).
Pop Sci publisher Gregg Hano said he was happy with the April sales, which are priced the same as a newsstand copy. “We’re seeing a fairly high rate of returning buyers for the May issue,” he added.
Condé Nast’s GQ has sold 57,000 downloads ($2.99 for the first purchase, $1.99 for repeats) since December, but since those figures include sales for the iPhone, it’s hard to isolate the impact of the iPad. In any case, they represent a small amount of GQ’s total circ of 894,005.
Apple is giving publishers download totals only and no other customer information—frustrating publishers and advertisers alike who are eager to know if the publications, which are looking to the device to help stem their advertising and circulation declines, are reaching new or existing users through the new technology.