iPad, iSchmad – we want good stories!

“When you’re drowning, everything looks like a lifesaver.”

Said New York Times columnist David Carr, who moderated a panel at The TechCrunch Disrupt conference, held this week in New York.  He was commenting about the myriad gadgets and apps crystal-balled to bring in the dollars lost to the Internet by “old media.”

What he meant, of course, is that the iPad and its siblings might look like life savers, but might not be.

Conde Nast this week released the iPad version of WIRED* magazine.  Although a few other publications have already launched iPad versions, Wired is the first to undergo a top-to-bottom re-imagining for the new format.

The reviews were mostly positive – except for the recurring complaints about the price ($5.00 per issue), the large files and resulting download time (500 MB and 10 minutes) and the fact that the content is warmed-over print magazine content.  Here are some typical comments:

iPadModo blog:”There is so much interaction integrated with the magazine that you may just forget to read the stories themselves…It’s very much like the print version but lots more fun.  However, the app with its high price, file size, and the overwhelming amount of ads that practically make up half of the magazine’s content, I cannot recommend the magazine at this time.”

SFGate.com: “If we like a story, we can’t copy a passage and pass it along to a friend.  We can’t email an article to our friends, either.  This is a big step back from the web…There seems to be a mentality in the magazine world that people want to read magazines the same as they always have, but with a few more bells and whistles…That’s not what we want.  When we want to read, we like to read good stories.  We don’t really care which magazine originated the story.”

Poster “StockInvestor”, who claims to pay over $1,500 a year for print, online and iPad subscriptions to the Wall Street Journal, BARRON’S, BUSINESSWEEK, FORBES and THE ECONOMIST, really laid it out:

“Now the Wall Street Journal or the Financial Times is another matter all together.  I am on [those sites] all day long.  I’m reading about the problems BP is facing trying to seal the well that is leaking oil for the past 5 weeks.  I am watching the value of BP stock go from $60 a share to $42 and I am watching the volume of trades.  I am watching for the analysts to turn from bears to bulls on the stock… I buy a couple hundred shares of BP for $41.90 a share…[it goes up and] $696.00 [in profit] for me…”

“The way I form my opinion depends on what I read [in the publications I subscribe to]…[These writers are] not writing stupid opinions for 3 paragraphs that couldn’t be sold to anyone for $0.00. They are well written opinions and facts that help investors make informed decisions.  That is why I pay $600 a year for the WSJ.  What has Wired helped you do other than waste time?  What does PCWorld do other tha[n] waste your attention span.  Do you remember any of the writer’s names?  I doubt it.  That’s how worthless these publications are.  They won’t last, and soon the web will shake out all the lazy publications.”

“All these sites that are worried they’d go out of business if they ask their user base for $2 a month shouldn’t exist in the first place.  They are nothing more than that brief moment in which [readers] stop to quickly look and see if there is anything interesting here before [they] flip the channel into the next web site on [their] long list of web sites [they] go to but don’t really care about.  Great business model… ”

Gee, it sounds like publishers should spend less on apps – reported by FinancialPost.com as around $350,000 per year “for the technology and additional staff needed to create cutting-edge app content” – and spend more on writers.

As SFGate.com said: “We like to read good stories.”

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