Peter Kafka

Recent Posts by Peter Kafka

Maybe Apple’s Newsstand Really Was a Present for Publishers

When Apple launched its Newsstand feature in iTunes this fall, the idea was that giving newspaper and magazine publishers their own dedicated shelf space — for those who signed on to Apple’s subscription program — would boost sales.

And perhaps it has. After the feature launched in October, there were a flurry of press releases and reports about increases in downloads and activity, though every report I saw listed percentage increases, not actual numbers.

But here are some, from Bonnier’s Popular Science mag app, in convenient chart form. The jump you see in the second week of October corresponds with the launch of Newsstand:

The chart comes to us courtesy of Mag+, Bonnier’s tablet-publishing software business. And as Mag+ CEO Staffan Ekholm points out, the really promising indicator for Pop Sci isn’t the one-week sales leap of 13 percent — it’s that the the magazine’s growth picked up after that week, with more velocity.

It’s very easy to caveat this report  — the most obvious thing to point out is that Pop Sci is a title that resonates particularly well with the iTunes market. But it’s still nice to see actual sales data, no matter how anecdotal.

The next thing I’d love to see, though I’m not sure how easy it will be to suss out, is how often readers return to Newsstand apps. In my personal experience, I find that I end up visiting the New York Times’ app much less frequently now that it’s stored in the Newsstand. I wish I could pull it out on its own, so it could sit next to stuff I use all the time, like Instapaper and Twitter. If anyone wants to offer up usage stats, you’ve got an open platform here.

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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