What Is The Future Of Magazines On The iPad?

Before Apple’s big tablet computer unveiling yesterday, all people in the magazine industry seemed to be talking about was “the tablet” and all the promises its full color touchscreen held for in store for declining newsstand sales and waning advertiser interest.

But, we were surprised to see that not one magazine was included in Steve Jobs’ presentation yesterday. While publishers like Time Inc. and Bonnier had developed tablet concepts for what they thought Apple’s product was going to look like, it seems like no one was willing (or asked?) to make an iPad-ready app in three weeks like The New York Times did.

So today, we wonder, will there be magazine apps ready when iPad is ready for purchase later this year? What issues will publishers be facing as they rush to put out something in the coming months?

The Times reports that Condé Nast and Time Inc. are both working on iPad apps for their titles, which should debut soon: “Condé Nast plans to have some magazines tablet-ready when the iPad ships — at least a version of the GQ iPhone app, but at best full iPad versions of multiple magazines.” Vanity Fair and Wired are likely to be among the publisher’s titles that will iPad-icized first.

And our favorite, Joshua Benton from Nieman Lab, has some lessons for publishers to remember when it comes to the iPad. Most importantly, we think, is the notion that the iPad won’t change the way we think of paid content. Explained Benton:

“On the iPhone, you can sell news apps through the App Store; you can upsell specific pieces of content to people within your apps; and you can sell advertising within those applications…On the iPad, you can…do those same three things. The only thing that has changed is the size, and that big beautiful screen. Will people who weren’t willing to buy news on an iPhone be sold on the idea just because the text is bigger and the photos are prettier? I’d be surprised. The commerce proposition hasn’t changed.”

With the prospect of subscribing to magazines direct from you iPad — like subscribing to a “season pass” of a TV show through iTunes as Benton points out — and more space to add advertising to the digital page, the iPad could have a pretty promising future for magazines. Publishers just aren’t there yet. And with only two months until the tablet hits stores, we doubt many publishers will be ready to provide magazine content to the iPad as it’s coming out of the box. But that doesn’t mean that all is lost.

The iPhone debuted almost three years ago now, and everyone still thinks its pretty cool. If the iPad takes off, magazine publishers will have time to work out the right apps that will work for them, and make their readers and advertisers happy. We look forward to seeing what they start churning out. Just like this new device, it’s bound to be pretty cool.

Read more: So it’s called the iPad: Five thoughts on how it will (and won’t) change the game for news organizations –Nieman Jounalism Lab

Conde Nast and Time Inc. Cheer iPad; Others Have DoubtsNew York Times

Previously: New York Times Reveals iPad App