Peter Kafka

Recent Posts by Peter Kafka

Wired Comes to the iPad, Version 2.0

We’ve seen the iPad. And we’ve seen what some magazine people think their stuff might look like once it gets to the wonderdevice.

But what will it really look like? Here’s a more informed guess, via Condé Nast’s Wired magazine, which has been working on an iPad-compatible version of the title for many months.

Wired, which has been building the iPad-version of the magazine with Adobe (ADBE), began previewing a rough version of the tabletized title last fall, but that was mainly conceptual. The newest demo, though, ought to be fairly close to the way Wired will actually appear when it makes it onto Apple’s (AAPL) device.

Last month, Wired showed off a brief demo to a small industry gathering. And over the weekend, it showed it off the to the invitation-only crowd at the TED conference. Now here’s a glimpse for you (it’s not free, of course–you’re going to get a good dose of promotional chatter on behalf of both Wired and Adobe):

So when will you actually be able to buy/see this thing in person? “Midsummer,” Condé Nast says, which means it won’t be ready for the device’s official launch in a couple of months. Condé will make a less glitzy version of some of its titles, a la GQ’s iPhone app, available before that, though.

And what about the fact that this thing was built by Adobe, which Apple is doing its best to freeze out of the iPhone/iPod/iPad ecosystem it is building? No problem, says Adobe.

That will come as a surprise to lots of tech pundits, but here’s Adobe’s explanation, via Jeremy Clark, the guy you see in the video above:

What was shown at TED, and is featured in the video, is an Adobe AIR application. This means it is compatible on Mac, Windows, Linux, Android (as of our announcement at Mobile World Congress yesterday), and it will run on the iPad as a native application. It is possible to develop applications leveraging a common ActionScript 3 codebase that can be converted at compile-time into a native .ipa (iPhone App) package instead of an AIR app installer (see [this post] for more information)

The English-language translation, if I have it right, is that Adobe says it’s no big deal to port apps built with its code into an iPad-friendly format. And Clark says Adobe is tracking at least 30 applications in which that has happened with the iPhone.

This is different, by the way, from Web sites using Adobe’s Flash, which are still S.O.L. on the iPhone and iPad. So for now, let’s assume that Adobe and Wired will indeed be able to get this stuff onto the iPad, until we hear differently.

A few other quick thoughts:

  • There’s no mention of price for this. But note Wired editor Chris Anderson’s reference to “resetting the economics” with tablet magazines. He’s talking about the Web, of course, which has trained readers not to pay for content, and advertisers not to pay much either. That’s a heady goal, but Anderson and his cohorts want to do more than that. They also want to reset print economics, by which readers have been trained to pay almost nothing for magazines. (A current Wired promotion gets you a subscription for 83 cents an issue. You get a free hat, too). So if you’re the kind of person who thinks digital goods should be supercheap because the marginal cost of each new item is basically zero, you and Condé Nast aren’t going to get along well.
  • Also note the cool picture of a bear, somewhere around the 2.40 mark–the one that changes as the tablet gets flipped from portrait to landscape mode. It’s actually two different images, which means Condé has to pay twice for that particular spread. So going forward, Condé is either going to have budget for that additional expense or figure out how to use images that work for both the print magazine and the digital version. Which gives you a little sense of the kind of thinking, and work, involved in producing a flashy product like this.

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