Tablet computers herald new age for magazine publishers

Apple may have sullied its reputation with the botched response to problems with the iPhone 4, but the iPad tablet computer continues to blaze a trail and establish a new medium that will have widespread repercussions for publishing, communications, and marketing.

Apple may have sullied its reputation with the botched response to problems with the iPhone 4, but the iPad tablet computer continues to blaze a trail and establish a new medium that will have widespread repercussions for publishing, communications, and marketing.

Further tablet computer products will follow over the next 12 months and the early signs are that users are quickly adopting new habits. This has particularly been picked up by the likes of magazine publishers Hearst and Condé Nast.

For a long time it was thought high-end glossy publications such as Vogue, GQ, and Vanity Fair would not translate well to the Web because top-quality photography and design could not be replicated online. With tablet computers, however, this is no longer the reality. If anything, outstanding photography looks even better on the iPad than in print, and you can integrate video, audio, extra content, illustrations, and how-to's.

Best of all, consumers seem willing to pay for content on tablets when they are reluctant to do so on "traditional" websites. Users think of tablets as mobile devices, and they are used to paying on mobile.

Condé Nast has already tested the water with an app for its tech publication Wired. It has also reinvented its Gourmet brand - which closed in print last fall - as an iPad-only product. Hearst launched an app for its Popular Mechanics title in July and plans to introduce more this year, including apps for Esquire, Marie Claire, Seventeen, Cosmopolitan, Harper's Bazaar, and Food Network, as well as O, The Oprah Magazine, which will launch an app that also contains a bookstore and e-reader.

This is rare good news for the publishing industry and could lead to a reinvigorated magazine sector and a new environment that communications professionals will need to adapt to if they are to garner the best placements for their brands and clients.

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