Magazine iPad editions still lack sharing capability
Magazine digital editions on the iPad offer rich media and interactivity, but are still lacking in one key area: social sharing capability. The “walled garden” nature of app content continues to be a valid criticism, a recent study by think tank L2 revealed.
Of the 87 (mostly consumer-based) magazines brands the study analyzed, 43 offer a full digital edition available as an iPad app in the iTunes store (not including editions available via readers like Zinio). Fewer than half (42 percent) of those magazine brands offer social sharing capability. Meaning, the majority of digital editions for the iPad don't let users post what they're reading to platforms such as Facebook and Twitter.
Colin Gilbert, one of the study's researchers, said this is surprising because almost all of the brands they looked at encourage sharing from their websites. One could argue that there's no efficient way to share premium content, but Gilbert said brands could offer workarounds, such as linking to an abbreviated article on the site.
He also noted that news aggregator apps such as Flipboard, Pulse and AOL's Editions manage to integrate social-sharing functions seamlessly. “A lot of people have written about how these apps are quickly leaving their traditional media counterparts behind,” he said in an email.
While social sharing capabilities might be lacking in digital editions, magazines with iPad editions seem to be making strides to offer more iPad-specific features beyond a print replica: 86 percent offer rich media content on their iPad edition; 72 percent offer links to external content; and sixty-seven percent offer interactive (“gesture”) page elements.
Magazine mobile investment
As far as mobile investment, Apple is unsurprisingly still the top priority, with 82 percent investing in iOS (see chart, below). Sixty-seven percent of the magazines have iPad native apps and about half have both iPhone and iPad apps.
Android is gaining speed, with almost a third of magazine brands "participating" on the Android platform. More than half of the publishers have a mobile-optimized site, but the number still seems small, considering the growing prominence of the mobile Web.
L2 also looked at other digital platforms such as email and social. Time Inc. was rated as having the highest “digital IQ” of all the magazine brands. The full study is available for free (registration required), and here is a video summarizing the results:
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