Friday, December 4, 2009

The (Possible) Future of Magazines

AP Photo/John Russell

In anticipation of the potential Apple tablet possibly coming out next year, the magazine industry, specifically Time Inc. and Sports Illustrated, is gearing up for what could be another huge twist in the state of journalism.

Time Inc. has released a demo of a tablet version of Sports Illustrated, the first of their magazines they will release in such a form.

The tablet-magazine will essentially be the print version on steroids. This is evident when what appears initially on the screen is a regular cover of Sports Illustrated, but when you touch it, the cover explodes into actual video.

There are countless numbers of photographs, a Google Flip type viewer of the magazine, and personal page with all your favorite teams' news and scores.

There is also a game feature where you can play along guessing what will happen with live events. Another feature is the ability to highlight certain pictures, videos, or stories, and click to share them through e-mail, Facebook, or Twitter.

All this makes the magazine more interactive for the user, but also could be better for the magazine's bottom line.

For starters the advertising would be stronger. The ads would be more vivid, with videos to go along with them, and would be targeted for the specific user. Also, Sports Illustrated does not require users to pay for web content. On the tablet, however, people would subscribe to the magazine or buy it like they would at a newsstand (once downloaded, the magazine portion of it will be available for the user off-line), thus creating more sales for the company and finding a way to boost on-line retail.

This Yahoo! Tech piece does a good job of juxtaposing the excitement of the tablet magazine with some real question that could derail its production and success.

1. The tablet is not even a definite to be released yet.

2. How many people, especially in this economy, are going to be willing to pay for the tablet in addition to any laptop and/or smart phone they have?

Still, the product in the demo looks very enticing. While there are a lot of "ifs" still in play in the production of this product, it will be an interesting step in seeing where the future of the journalism industry is headed.

If it looks this good, then I, for one, am excited.

Video from YouTube.

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