updated 10:10 am EST, Fri March 4, 2011
Costs to rise despite lack of subscriptions
The iPad versions of GQ, Vanity Fair and Glamour are all migrating to new apps within the next month, says publisher Conde Nast. The major factor involved is a decision to migrate from a proprietary digital publishing system to one created by Adobe. Adobe would likely have become an industry standard for iPad magazines last summer -- thanks to an ability to cross-compile for different platforms -- but Apple temporarily banned third-party development tools, only restoring developer freedoms under the looming threat of an FTC investigation.
In the Conde Nast switchover, GQ and Vanity Fair will also increase in price. The magazines previously came with a discount on subsequent issues after buying the first, but this is being eliminated. GQ will therefore go from $3 to $5 per issue, while Vanity Fair will rise from $4 to $5. Glamour should actually see a week-long discount to $1 beginning next Tuesday, but will then go back to its normal price.
Conde says it is looking to "reexamine pricing," and charge the same for digital copies as it does for paper ones, although Wired and the New Yorker are still $1 less on the App Store than at a newsstand. The company may also be abandoning the iPhone and iPod touch, as in the near-term the new apps are only being produced for the iPad. The old apps should continue to function so long as people have downloaded and archived associated issues; new issues will require new software.
There is no sign that any of the new apps will support Apple's in-app subscription billing. None of the major magazine publishers have shown any interest for titles also sold in paper form, notes All Things Digital. While it is possible to offer app subscriptions through an outside portal, Apple is requiring than an in-app option be available at the same price or less, even though the company is taking a 30 percent cut of in-app sales.