First-generation magazine tablet apps will probably seem primitive in a few years (or months!), as publishers embrace more of the medium's native features. So far, tablet app design has consisted mostly of digital magazine replicas, with a varying amount of add-ons suited for the platform. But the Holy Grail for app design incorporates production skills from the Web, print and even film/television to create a new platform for storytelling.
It comes as no surprise, then, to see film producers becoming app developers. I recently sat down with Aziz Isham
, founder of Arcade Sunshine Media
, a multimedia production studio that creates iPad apps focused on storytelling. Isham and team have a background producing documentaries and programs for television networks like National Geographic. When the iPad came out, they saw an opportunity to break out of the confines of television to produce for a more dynamic medium. As Arcade's website says: “For the first time in history, there is a device equally comfortable displaying text and video. Text will never be the same — and for us, it's become the vehicle for the films we've always wanted to make.”
The company has been experimenting with creating enhanced e-books, such as the "Here on Earth app," and is talking to magazine publishers about creating apps. Arcade can offer a soup-to-nuts implementation that would be a fraction of the cost it would take to produce an app from scratch, Isham said. (He did not provide specific pricing but said it varies based on the assets they have to create ― like video ― versus what the publisher already has produced.)
Isham sees his offering as a good fit for smaller, independent publishers that want to get on the iPad. Now that the big publishers have been touting iPad apps for the last year, smaller publishers are the next frontier, and a growing crop of app developers have taken note. For instance, Texterity
's new offering targets publishers that want to go beyond a digital replica on a budget.
While many smaller publishers may already have digital editions, there's certainly an opportunity to create more content that takes advantage of the tablet. “We're really pushing people to create companion apps,” he said.
He sees the iPad as an opportunity to create new formats for storytelling, and a comeback for long-form, narrative storytelling
. On mobile, he said, “films are getting shorter and articles are getting longer."
“Long-form is having a bit of a renaissance,” Isham added. “Text is becoming the dive deeper and video is becoming instantaneous.”