I've purposely avoided renewing all of my print magazines subscriptions for the past several months because I figured I'd switch them to iPad apps/subscriptions. My plan hasn't worked so well. I no longer get BusinessWeek, Fast Company or The New York Times, but none of them are available as apps either. So what has this led to?
I now just bookmark all those magazine/newspaper web sites on my iPad and read pretty much everything I want for free. The longer these publishers delay introducing an iPad app for their content, the greater the likelihood I will have moved on and won't ever buy it. What a mistake.
The whole experience has also caused me to wonder if there's an opportunity for a whole new type of app. Think of it as a combination of Fluent News and Offline Pages. What I want is an app that automatically checks each of those magazine/newspaper sites and pushes me the full contents of the latest edition. Without this sort of app I'm forced to do this manually, looking through nytimes.com, clicking on each article that's interesting and then hitting the "Save to Offline Pages" webmarklet that's installed on my browser. Why make me go through all that effort? Why not let me tell this new app what newspapers and magazines I want the latest from and deliver them to me?
Before you say that's what the RSS feeds are for think again. Many of those feeds are partial. They don't include the entire article or they make you click and go to their website to see their ads. Fine, I'll look at the ads...but in the version that's cached in this new app I'm describing.
Isn't this ridiculous though? These publishers are trying to control the flow and use of their content so they're forcing customers like me to come up with better ways of using it. (Hey, that sounds a lot like the denial stage the music labels went through back in the Napster days.) And btw, I'm a customer who is more than willing to pay for online access to this content, but by not providing apps these publishers won't let me! These are the same publishers, at least on the newspaper side, who constantly complain that Google has stolen their IP. Google hasn't stolen anything. And if the publishers don't get wise to the rapidly growing iPad platform they'll probably see someone else swoop in and steal the app revenue opportunity they're currently ignoring.