Peter Kafka

Recent Posts by Peter Kafka

Wired's Newest iPad Issue Boasts Its Best Feature Yet: Free

Remember when iPad magazine apps–and Wired’s app in particular–were big news? That was a year ago.

Now Wired would like to remind you that it’s still publishing on the iPad, and the Conde Nast title is offering a pretty good incentive to give it another look: Its newest issue, which should go online today, will be free.

The one-time promotion comes via a sponsorship from Adobe. Which shouldn’t be a surprise, given that Adobe and Wired have been working hand in hand on tablet publishing for nearly two years now.

Wired has also added a few more bells and whistles to the app, including the ability to share stories via Facebook and Twitter. There’s also an e-commerce partnership with Amazon, where  readers can purchase items the magazine writes about via the online store, but without leaving the magazine app itself.

None of that is revolutionary, but it does show you how relatively crude Wired’s first app edition was when it launched last May. In retrospect, for instance, it seems astonishing that it hasn’t had social media links: Any app that launched without them now would be hooted down.

So. Twelve issues in, how’s the app performing on the business side? Conde won’t share many details; Wired publisher Howard Mittman says that monthly download totals have settled into the 20,000 to 30,000 range. That’s down considerably from the first issue, which racked up more than 100,000 downloads, but not surprising.

Those figures might well go up if Conde Nast decides to work with Apple’s subscription plan, which would likely lead to a lower per-issue cost. But I wouldn’t hold my breath.

On the other hand, Mittman says that advertisers are even more willing to bet on the app than they were a year ago. Which is surprising, and contrary to what I’ve heard from other publishers about their own titles. Mittman won’t release figures, but he says that today’s issue will generate more advertising dollars than Wired’s first issue a year ago.

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