Peter Kafka

Recent Posts by Peter Kafka

Wired’s iPad App Boasts a New Feature: A Price Cut

The second edition of Condé Nast’s much-praised Wired magazine iPad app is out, and it boasts some new features. The biggest one: A 20 percent price cut.

The magazine publisher sold some 95,000 digital copies of its June issue at $4.99, the same price the ink-and-paper edition commands. So why sell the July issue at $3.99–while also knocking down the price of the first issue to the same level?

Condé says it will be experimenting with digital magazine pricing for months to come. But Wired Editor Chris Anderson, who wants us to know that he doesn’t control his magazine’s sales price, makes the common-sense argument: Digital editions should cost less than physical ones because there’s no distribution cost.

“I would say that right now, all of us have opinions about the perfect price,” he says. “My feeling, my own personal instinct, is that digital should be at slight discount to print.”

Actually, Anderson says, in an ideal world he would prefer to offer it at an even steeper discount. The man who wrote “Free” would like to make Wired a freemium product: Offer some of the issue for no charge, and then upsell for the full thing.

“If there’s any one kind of tub I’m thumping, that’s the one,” he says. And then once again reminds us that he doesn’t control the magazine’s price. Noted!

Meanwhile, a few of the features to pay attention to:

  • Clicking on a Web link–whether in an ad or on an editorial page–will now open up a Web page without kicking the user out of the app and into Apple’s (AAPL) Safari browser.
  • The app itself is now a free “wrapper” that you’ll use to purchase, view and store different issues of the magazine. If you purchased the first edition of the magazine and want to buy another one, you’ll have to go through the slightly cumbersome process of downloading the new app, then reloading the old issue back into the wrapper. There’s no cost to reload the issue, but it will take time, as it’s a really big file.
  • The new issue isn’t quite as big as the old file, which came in at whopping 550 megabytes. The July app is a mere 340MB, but that’s in large part because the issue itself is smaller than the June issue. Condé and Adobe (ADBE), which is handling all of the technical heavy lifting on this, are going to have to figure out how to get the app much slimmer, or people won’t be able to subscribe to the thing.
  • Subscriptions, social networking features and all sorts of other goodies are still on the drawing board.

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I think the NSA has a job to do and we need the NSA. But as (physicist) Robert Oppenheimer said, “When you see something that is technically sweet, you go ahead and do it and argue about what to do about it only after you’ve had your technical success. That is the way it was with the atomic bomb.”

— Phil Zimmerman, PGP inventor and Silent Circle co-founder, in an interview with Om Malik