This is one very unexpected trend: Yet another magazine publisher has demonstrated how it thinks its future might look as a digital edition on a tablet PC. This time it’s Swedish publisher Bonnier, and their video is clever. But wrong.
Check out the clip below–it’s a fictional CGI number drawn up for Bonnier by London firm BERG (previously featured here and here). The whole point is to demonstrate “one possible vision for digital magazines in the near future” and it’s pretty slick, from a geeky eye-candy point of view.
What did you see there? Among the corporate speak and incredibly hand-wavy and ill-defined sense of what kind of actual digital coding system a tablet-edition magazine might adopt, there was at least one gem. And it’s the same thing that lies behind the digital makeovers that the other big-name mag publishers have been touting recently: The digital versions will be enhanced tweaks of the existing magazine format. And by that, I mean they’ll make the most of the graphical and user-interactivity powers of a computer-based edition but they’ll essentially remain more or less the same from a user viewpoint. The Bonnier video even makes special note of the iconic nature of some magazine covers, and comments on how comsumers love the existing format. That may be all very true, but isn’t there a massively missed opportunity here?
I mean the tablet editions offer the chance to invent an entirely new system for presenting features, articles and advertising compared to paper magazines–a level of graphical, video real-time, audio feed, and interaction that magazines haven’t ever had. Think of the cleverest Web-tech, and imagine it squeezed into your favorite mag, laden with custom graphics and Flash, and hooked up to Twitter and Facebook.
It’s not easy to do this. It’ll require massive rethinking, re-staffing and some very fleet-footed maneuvers inside magazine publishing houses, I agree. But surely the way to tackle a disruptive tech that looks set to completely upset your current business model is to reinvent, reimagine, and grasp the nettle? I don’t even expect the early e-magazines to be all that clever, but these video clips are future concepts for devices that as yet are only vaporware. And they seem (particularly this recent one–a surprise really, since it’s from the same design team as the brilliant curved New York map and RFID visualization) to be more like the usual paper and ink magazine jazzed-up with mere Powerpoint-esque animations for the imagery and body text. Where’s the raw imaginative creativity, hey chaps?
Here’s Time Inc.’s vision of the tablet magazine of the future:
And here’s the one from Wired publisher Conde Nast:
[Via Paid Content]