Think windows, not doors

In January, I wrote about my positive experience with a new iPad app for the Economist. Described elsewhere as “barebones and featureless (but that’s okay)”, the app supports fast downloads and simple, intuitive navigation.

After I wrote that post, we upgraded our home internet connection to Verizon’s FiOS service. Weekly updates for the Economist now take about ten seconds, a very satisfying experience.

Because we also subscribe to Bloomberg BusinessWeek, I was happy to see the current issue, whose cover wrap promoted the launch of a free app. As with the Economist app, a print subscriber can access the digital content by entering an account number.

What a difference an app makes.

Downloading the current issue of Bloomberg BusinessWeek felt like it took forever. I hadn’t timed the first one, but I was still able to download back issues, so I decided to time a few of those.

Three subsequent issues took 2:45, 2:45 and 3:20 to move from server to my iPad. Okay, three minutes is not an eternity, but it is 16 to 20 times the time it took to get an issue of the Economist.

That means the files are also 16 to 20 times the size those of the Economist. With the somewhat memory-challenged iPad “Classic”, I am already thinking “how much do I really need this week’s issue in a digital format?” That’s not the question Bloomberg wants me to ask.

Other folks have reviewed the functionality; TechCrunch was underwhelmed. I understand what TechCruch is saying, but in this case I lean the other way.

I don’t need an all-in-one whizbang iPad app, a portal to answer every question I might have. From magazines, I want a window – easily navigable words and pictures that leave a small footprint.

About Brian O'Leary

Founder and principal of Magellan Media Consulting, Brian O’Leary helps enterprises with media and publishing components capitalize on the power of content. A veteran of more than 30 years in the publishing industry and a prolific content producer himself, Brian leverages the breadth and depth of his experience to deliver innovative content solutions.

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