Peter Kafka

Recent Posts by Peter Kafka

Another Cool New Yorker App. And This One’s Free.

Like the New Yorker’s iPad app, but don’t want to pay for it? Here’s a sort-of alternative: The magazine’s new entertainment listings app.

It’s not the New Yorker, but it’s built using the magazine’s intellectual DNA. And instead of the $60 a year the magazine charges for its primary app, this one is 100 percent free.

The “Goings On” app, which will work on both iPhone and Android handsets, is pretty much exactly what you’d expect: The magazine’s weekly listings of New York art exhibits, concerts, etc., tethered to an interactive map.

There are a few extra goodies, too, like audio recordings from New Yorker authors that will work as walking tours: Food writer Calvin Trillin will lead listeners through his favorite eateries and stores, and architecture critic Paul Goldberger navigates the city’s amazing elevated High Line park.

All of which sounds cool, if not groundbreaking. I got a very brief demo last week, but have no idea how it will work in the real world.

It’s worth noting that this is another example of a magazine publisher experimenting with an app that isn’t a straightforward replica of one of its titles. Instead, the app leverages the New Yorker’s brand and its intellectual property to create a new standalone product.

In this case, the magazine is turning that into revenue via an ad deal — MasterCard will be the app’s sole sponsor, via a package deal that also gets the brand into the print magazine — but Conde and other publishers have tried charging customers for standalones, too.

Very good bet that we’ll see more of these from Conde and its competitors, and that they’ll continue to play around with price points. Encouraging experiments.


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Another gadget you don’t really need. Will not work once you get it home. New model out in 4 weeks. Battery life is too short to be of any use.

— From the fact sheet for a fake product entitled Useless Plasticbox 1.2 (an actual empty plastic box) placed in L.A.-area Best Buy stores by an artist called Plastic Jesus