Peter Kafka

Recent Posts by Peter Kafka

People Tries to Boost Subscriptions by Selling a New iPhone App

people celebwatch timelineWhat’s that? You say you’d like to keep track of famous people on Twitter, but don’t want to use a Twitter app to do that?

And you say you’d also like to read lots of articles from People.com on your iPhone, without going to People.com?

Voila! Meet People Magazine’s CelebWatch app, which will fit that very specific bill. And say goodbye to People’s old mobile apps, which got about 500,000 downloads over the last three years.*

Think of the new one as a very curated mashup of Twitter and People’s Web site, and you’ll get the basic idea.

This is the kind of app that will be very useful if you want to keep track of everything Rihanna says on Twitter, and everything People.com says about her (and other famous people).

But it won’t do you any good if you like to use Twitter for other stuff, like telling people what you had for breakfast, or tracking revolutions in Egypt, or anything else.

Even if you’re not a candidate for CelebWatch, the app is still worth noting for the strategy Time Inc. is using here: It’s selling access to the app  for $1 a month, or $10 for a year, and giving it away for free to People’s “all-access” subscribers, who are already getting print and digital bundles.

It’s the second part that’s more important. Time Inc. executives will be pleased if they see a few new dollars coming in from app sales. But what they really want to do is make their magazine subscriptions more valuable. Maybe throwing in something that costs other people a buck a month will help.

“We wanted to have a mobile pillar for the business we’ve already built out,” says Jennifer Ogden-Reese, who heads up consumer marketing for Time Inc.’s Style & Entertainment Group.

To spell that out: People, which has 2.4 million subscribers, is perhaps Time Inc.’s most important title. So if a modest app like this helps keep those numbers up, it’s going to gain a lot of stature.

*And if you’re an Android user, hang tight. People says your version is coming soonish.


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There’s a lot of attention and PR around Marissa, but their product lineup just kind of blows.

— Om Malik on Bloomberg TV, talking about Yahoo, the September issue of Vogue Magazine, and our overdependence on Google