Peter Kafka

Recent Posts by Peter Kafka

Wired’s Flash-Free App Lands on the iPad, After All

That Wired magazine app Condé Nast and Adobe have been trying so hard to get into Apple’s App Store? It costs five bucks and is available at iTunes now.

I had a brief chance to play with the app yesterday, and it seems silly to describe something you can view for yourself. If you don’t want to pay up for a full look, you can get a free peek via a slick promotional clip, as well as an interview I conducted with Wired Creative Director Scott Dadich, below.

Still reading? Okay. Some thoughts:

  • Like every other app we’ve seen so far, Wired’s entry delivers on a basic promise: It gives you everything in the print edition, plus some digital media goodies. In this case the goodies are pretty cool. ln addition to a “Toy Story 3” excerpt and an Industrial Light & Magic greatest hits reel, there are some neat animations designed specifically for the app. I asked Dadich if we could expect to see videos with behind-the-scenes footage of magazine photo shoots, a staple for print publishers looking for easy video. He snorted with derision. So that’s promising.
  • If you’re one of those who insist that publishers’ apps work like Web sites, you’re going to be disappointed. This one comes with almost no links to the Internet or social sharing tools. Those will come down the line, Condé says.
  • The app is as big as we heard it would be: A whopping half a gigabyte. Condé says that’s because 1) It’s a complicated app, and 2) It’s packed full of media like those clips I just mentioned. Which means you won’t have to connect to the Web to get to any of that stuff, as other apps require. Still, the size of the download needs to come down–entry-level iPads boast just 16 gigabytes of memory–and Condé promises it will.

And while we’re at it, some business issues:

  • Condé won’t say how much it invested into this thing, but it will start seeing some immediate dividends. Every ad that runs in Wired’s print issue also shows up in the app, but Condé has convinced nine advertisers to pay a premium to add bells and whistles to their ads–videos, links to Web sites, etc. Expect more of that going forward.
  • When Condé Nast first began talking about the app, the publisher thought it would be launching with both Apple’s (AAPL) tablet and one from Hewlett-Packard (HPQ). But given HP’s deal with Palm (PALM), those plans have been tabled for while. Maybe when HP’s tablet running Palm’s webOS comes out in the fall.
  • Meanwhile, Condé Nast says that the real point of the exercise–to build a platform that allows the publisher to create a digital version of the magazine with the same tools it uses to build the print edition–has been a success. Adobe’s (ADBE) idea was to create a single version that would run on all platforms, but Apple’s anti-Flash stance has made that a no-go. Instead, Condé will build an iPad-specific app and one that works everywhere else–assuming people want to read it anywhere else. I asked the Condé folks what they thought about Google’s (GOOG) demo of a mag app for the Chrome browser and they didn’t rush to praise it.

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Just as the atom bomb was the weapon that was supposed to render war obsolete, the Internet seems like capitalism’s ultimate feat of self-destructive genius, an economic doomsday device rendering it impossible for anyone to ever make a profit off anything again. It’s especially hopeless for those whose work is easily digitized and accessed free of charge.

— Author Tim Kreider on not getting paid for one’s work