While the popularity of mobile phones and PCs has introduced
cutting-edge technology to a wider audience, the traditional magazines
in this area (for example, those with 'dry' coverage of cameras or
hi-fis) have been outflanked by a string of 'boys and their toys'
publications which mix hardware with lads mag lifestyle content.
Each mixes technology and lifestyle in a different proportion.
Stuff and T3 are the market leaders with circulations of around 50,000 a
month. T3 (Tomorrow's Technology Today), is the more puritanical,
priding itself on being more strictly dedicated to gadgetry. Stuff on
the other hand has a broader remit, covering more new products that are
not necessarily silicon-based.
The newer bi-monthly Boys Toys, still to put out an ABC, is even more
lifestyle-based, unashamedly carrying articles about relationships in
which technology has no role.
All three titles are taking readers from both sides. Lad magazines
(although they all have dedicated gadget sections) are missing out on
the cache all the shiny new technology can bring, while the traditional
techie magazines look dull and, in their narrow niches, are struggling
to follow the convergence of technical devices.
How adequately can a telecoms or hi-fi magazine, for example, review
mobile phones that have on-board digital radio receivers?
Stuff was developed by Dennis Publishing, which has a strong pedigree in
both technology titles (MacUser) and lifestyle magazines (Maxim), but
was sold in 1999 to Haymarket. In developing the title, Dennis
Publishing had played around with the technology/lifestyle mix, but
Haymarket has re-focused it away from the lads magazines.
With Stuff now sold off, Dennis is currently looking for a way back into
the market that does not contravene an agreement with Haymarket that it
will not launch against it. The result: PC Gear is pitched as a
lifestyle computer-based title.
It is an idea that media agencies have some faith in. Danny Stickney,
media manager at media agency Rocket, says: 'In principal it could be a
really good offering. There are more and more people playing computer
games and they have lives too, so they are going to be more interested
than in a straight PC title.
If PC Gear is the success Dennis and Stickney think it could be, the way
seems open for a wholesale fragmentation of the men's lifestyle
Position: Deputy Editor
Circulation: 52,403 (ABC)
Publisher: Haymarket Publishing
'Stuff is the market leader in a sector that has grown fast because
everyone has so much exposure to technology these days. The main reason
it has happened is because the mobile phone has made people very aware
and passionate about gadgets.
'We deal with technology without sounding nerdy. It is a technological
lifestyle magazine rather than a heavy computer technology magazine. We
have elements of fashion too, for example clothes that have a technical
aspect to them. It is about how people interact with technology that is
the key - not just the item itself but how life is increasingly about an
interaction with technology.'
Circulation: 51,112 (ABC)
'Our remit is to be the first with new technology, whereas Stuff will do
other things like new football boots. We are the first to tell you about
the next generation of cars, games consoles, whatever. We are read by
early adopters of technology who are ABC1 25-40, 98 per cent men,
earning something like pounds 50K a year.
'We are half-way between FHM and traditional technology magazines. The
things we put in have to be innovative, sexy, and stylishly
Women do not seem to be that interested in technology, although the
whole technology market is shifting towards women. A lot has been
launched in Japan aimed at women.'
Circulation: circa 65,000
Publisher: Freestyle Publications
'The concept is a lifestyle magazine but with an emphasis on gadgets -
we do not just review gadgets but we put them in the context of how
people can use them and how much fun they are to use.
'The other magazines are more about performance - there is not so much
about how they integrate into our lives.
'We also have a strong lifestyle element with articles on relationships
that are not linked to technology.
'We are trying to appeal to a guy between the ages of 24-36 who is
financially selfish wanting to spend money on technology, and probably
Circulation: 75,000 (print run)
Publisher: Dennis Publishing
'This will not really be a gadget magazine like the others, although
that is one of the things we are covering, but we can be compared to
them as we are looking at technology from a gadget perspective as a cool
thing that looks nice.
'We are targeting 18-35 men, but will probably have a high pass-on
readership to women.
'The magazine will be about games, gadgets, internet, and how to do
things with PCs.
'It is a market that people have been trying to address for a long
We are not really interested in work, we are about the PC as a gadget -
it is the PC for leisure.'