Peter Kafka

Recent Posts by Peter Kafka

Another Magazine Tries a Non-Magazine iPad App: Esquire’s “Hardest Puzzle Ever”

Magazines on the iPad haven’t blown anyone away yet, though the publishing industry is hopeful that deals to sell subscriptions on the tablet will give things a kick start.

But there’s another way for magazines to approach the iPad: Sell apps that aren’t magazines.

The idea is to take the publishers’ powerful brands and intellectual capital, and make something that isn’t a digital replica of a print publication.

We’ve started to see these over the last six months, and I think we’re going to see many more. Today’s example: Esquire’s “Hardest Puzzle Ever.”

The app springboards off some brainteasers the Hearst magazine has run in the past, but it’s an entirely new product–half Rubik’s Cube, half trivia game. It’s free, but after the first level you’ll need to shell out $4.99 (once) to keep going; there’s also a free minigame sponsored by Lincoln.

I only got a few seconds with the app the other day, and found it awfully frustrating. But I’m also one of those people who has never, ever solved a Rubik’s Cube without breaking the thing apart, which isn’t really solving it. So maybe this one isn’t for me. (I do like trivia, though! Maybe I needed a “Not the Hardest Puzzle Ever” version.)

In any case, I like that Hearst is taking a crack at this, and that it plans to do other one-offs. It’s easy to imagine an Esquire drinks app, fashion app, etc.

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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