The departure of Computer Active deputy editor Dylan Armbrust to
Future Publishing has prompted speculation that Future is either going
to launch a new PC title of its own or relaunch existing titles to go
head to head with the current market leader.
As well as steering clear of technical jargon, Computer Active - the
UK’s biggest selling computer magazine established in 1998 - immediately
sets itself apart from its rivals in that it comes out once a fortnight
and has a cheaper cover price at pounds 1.20.
Although Future Publishing’s Nathan Berkley refused to confirm that
Future was considering launching a direct competitor to Computer Active,
he admitted looking at either changing the frequency of his existing
monthly titles or launching new weekly or fortnightly titles.
Editors of the older titles - traditionally glossy monthlies appealing
to business users and home enthusiasts - acknowledge the huge effect
that the internet is having on driving sales of PCs and therefore on the
content of their magazines. But many say that, in terms of language,
audiences in general have become more familiar with computer jargon and
need less explanation. ’As computers have moved into the home, so people
have become more intelligent and well-versed in technology,’ says James
Morris, editor of PC Pro.
Sheryl Seitz, a director at ’consumer tech’ agency Bite Communications,
whose clients include Apple, believes that the PC press will eventually
split into two main types: the glossy ’premier publication’ monthlies
and the cheaper fortnightly or weekly titles, in direct relation to the
shift in emphasis happening in the PC market.
’There has been a tremendous surge of people buying machines to get on
to the internet and people will want their magazines to be more hands-on
so that they get more out of the experience,’ she says.
’People are much more open to trying new things with their computers
now, such as web cameras, so they will want titles that can cover things
much more quickly, to keep pace with new developments.’
However, analysts predict that in approximately the next five years,
there will only be roughly five major computer manufacturers left and so
nuances between products are likely to become blurred. Some experts
believe that as this happens, although there will be more people with
home computers than ever before, the number of actual enthusiasts is
bound to decline.
ABC: 325,823 (Jan to Dec 1999)
’We are aimed at home computer buyers and users and are designed to be
very easy to understand. We are endorsed by the Campaign for Plain
We are dedicated to telling readers how to get the best out of their
’The section that really typifies us is our Workshop section, which
offers a step-by-step guide to doing certain things. Our features are in
a similar vein but with more background information.
’We also have a performance testing section, which also explains the
basics about products such as printers. And, unlike many other PC
magazines we have a regular technology feature which will cover a
related technology such as WAP.’
PERSONAL COMPUTER WORLD
Position: Deputy editor
ABC: 146,704 (July-Dec 1999)
’Our readers are predominantly male and split between home users and
business users. The magazine has been going for 22 years and now you can
see that the focus is very much on internet and e-commerce compared to
say five years ago.
’Every month we do three group tests. We will take, say, 14 PCs for web
developers and compare them. We will send an invite out to all the key
players and the first 14 that come through the door that work and meet
the spec, we will review. Our features are more issues-led. For example
we have one coming up on protecting your privacy on the net.
’We also have a ’hands on’ section, which tells you what you can do with
your PC once you have everything you need.’
ABC: 160,096 (July-Dec 1999)
’We are aimed at both business and consumers. It is a bit of a hybrid
audience with the PC-proficient manager of small businesses and we have
seen a growth in silver surfers.
’Expert advice in plain English, is probably as close as we come to a
mission statement although it is difficult to avoid jargon all of the
’We are not targeting IT news junkies so our news analyses will focus on
issues that we think will affect the largest number of readers. We have
product reviews which include buying guides and our features are quite
often product-related, but tend to deal with real-life situations.
They are very practical and will cover issues such as how to post your
photos up on-line.’
Publisher: Dennis Publishing
ABC: 165,957 (July-Dec 1999)
’Our readership is a cross-section between those who do the IT buying at
work and home enthusiasts. The reason we are so successful is because
the home user needs the same advice as the business user.
’We have two or three lab tests a month where we get as many examples of
particular products as we can to see which products work the best and
which are best value. We will test new products in the reviews section,
but PR people should talk to us about it first and let us have the
product for at least a few weeks so that we can test it properly
’The ’Real World’ at the back of the magazine is unique in that it is
written by IT consultants and gives their experiences,hints and tips.’