This week the Parthenon staff viewed Wired magazine’s video detailing how the publication might appear on a tablet computer. Billed as a “game changer” by Editor Chris Anderson, the prototype is very slick, with lots of features not offered by other online magazine viewers. As cool as the demo is, there are real questions to be answered in terms of audience adoption, advertiser commitment and the revenue model.
The story accompanying the video on the Wired site notes that with the new tablet, “we finally have a digital platform that allows us to retain all the rich visual features of high-gloss print, from lavish design to glorious photography, while augmenting it with video, animations, additional content and full interactivity.” This is true, but it will take a while for an audience to develop for this experience due to the lack of tablet distribution. In addition, while the responses to the demo are mostly positive, it remains to be seen whether there is a pent-up desire to consume a magazine in this way.
Advertisers will likely be intrigued by the ability to demonstrate products and services with the rich media and interactivity that will be available. However, this assumes that the advertiser has rich media to present and is prepared to engage in an interactive fashion with consumers. I think Wired advertisers are likely more prepared than most for this situation, but I wonder if advertisers in a less tech savvy market either have this capability or are prepared to invest to develop it.
One of the key lines in the video comes from Chris Anderson, saying that “this allows us to explore whether consumers will be willing to pay for it.” If the experience is so good that consumers are willing to pay for online content when they largely haven’t before, it could truly be a “game changer.” I will be one of the many who will watch this with interest.
I applaud the effort behind and the results of the Wired tablet demo. It has brought new functionality and a new level of design to the presentation of magazine content to the computer screen. It will be interesting to watch it fully develop in the coming months and years.