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Anyone concerned about the imminent decline of Apple following the passing of its visionary leader Steve Jobs can go back to worrying about climate change or the Mayan calendar doomsday. This week’s quarterly earnings report blew the doors off investor expectations: profits up 94% over a year ago; highest ever Mac, iPhone, iPad sales in a March quarter; cash above $110 billion; it’s Camelot in Cupertino.

Even Iron Man in the new Avengers movie sustains more damage than my aluminum MacBook Pro.

Even Iron Man in the new Avengers movie sustains more damage than my aluminum MacBook Pro.

Apple has been top of mind a lot lately. I recently recounted my self-administered laptop damage travel fiasco that occurred at SmartPark (I know, right?). Incredibly, despite running over the edge of my MacBook Pro when the laptop case flopped over as I parked, the tough aluminum case was bent but not broken. The CD drive, which looked to be affected, wasn’t. The display was compromised but only in the upper right corner. Less than 24 hours at the Apple Store restored it to pristine condition. Can you name another product that can take that kind of licking and keep on ticking?

While my Mac was in for repair, I spent the weekend in Manhattan and had the chance to visit the Apple Store on Fifth Avenue. It is just below ground, but by the stairs or glass elevator that take you down, it feels like you are entering the Starship Enterprise. This is a company that knows how to fire the public’s imagination and desire for all things digital.

Beam me down, Scotty, to the planet Apple below Fifth Avenue in NYC.

Beam me down, Scotty, to the planet Apple below Fifth Avenue in NYC.

I am not a huge cellphone guy, but I have had an iPhone for about a year and it’s wearing me down. I don’t need to be on it  all the time, but I find myself using it for so many different things. In the car, it’s my GPS and my iTunes feed. In a long line at the store or restaurant, it’s my e-mail, Facebook, and Twitter access. In bored moments, I find myself downloading really useful apps like the Flipadelphia cup flipping game from It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia. Obviously, with the explosion of iPhone and iPad users out there (including a burgeoning market in China), Apple’s future is looking mighty rosy. Even a Justice Department investigation over possible book publisher collusion on digital book pricing is little more than a minor distraction.



The cool factor has always been there in Apple advertising. From 1984, through the PC and Mac guys, and the iTunes tunes, Apple has managed to capture attention, set trends, and create demand for its amazing products. Now comes two new TV spots featuring celebrity users of the latest generation iPhones with Siri capability. Although Apple has enough cachet on its own, it doesn’t hurt to trade on the current popularity of Samuel L. Jackson and Zooey Deschanel. Neither spot is ground-breaking, but both are fun and play to the strengths of the actors at quiet moments at home with their digital personal assistant.  The reviewer from Advertising Age found them somewhat misguided and with the strategy adrift now that Steve Jobs isn’t captaining the ship. Still, the spots are scoring well with consumers. Right now, I think you could replace Jackson and Deschanel with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Snooki and it wouldn’t have any effect on Apple sales or popularity. The economy might be hurting, the California economy in particular, but in Cupertino, it’s the gold rush all over again.

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Website Magazine — Hope for print yet.

Website Magazine is not an oxymoron. It is further evidence that many people still prefer paper over pixels.

I love print and am always on the lookout for examples that the Internet and eco-zealots have not driven the printing industry underground to a black market enterprise (it remains and should remain a huge, vibrant part of our economy). As you saw here last week, B2B publishing in general took a big hit with the impending demise of 23 Reed titles (there is some indication that a few are reassembling). This week, however, a new publication crossed my desk and its very title gave me new hope — Website Magazine. Wow, there are actually online enthusiasts, web developers, and SEO specialists out there willing to get content delivered by the US post and there are enough of them to warrant a new magazine launch in this difficult economy.

Exhibit B is a new “Power of Print” ad campaign about the vitality of magazines launched by the leaders of five major magazine companies—Charles H. Townsend, Condé Nast; Cathie Black, Hearst Magazines; Jack Griffin, Meredith Corporation; Ann Moore, Time Inc.; and Jann Wenner, Wenner Media.

Power of Print ad campaign sponsored by 5 major magazine publishers

Power of Print ad campaign sponsored by 5 major magazine publishers

From an advertising and brand impact perspective, I will take a full page print ad (or better yet, a magazine spread) over a digital banner or sponsored link any day.

I am encouraged, but I would hardly call this a trend. Actually, the trend I have been following and I believe it is where publishing is ultimately going is digital magazines. At first, I wasn’t a huge fan. For the most part, digital magazines are online versions that replicate print magazine issues by using various specialized reader software. Throw in a few hyperlinks and you’ve got an enhanced PDF that displays in reader spreads and simulates page flips.

The best of these platforms has always been Zinio, which is where most digital versions of consumer pubs reside (B2B publishers use a variety of other software). It wasn’t until visiting the Zinio booth at a digital conference earlier this year that I developed an appreciation for where the future of publishing is headed. Zinio’s booth was joined at the hip with the booth for a new women’s magazine called VIV. It is the first magazine created exclusively as a digital magazine. What that means is editorial spreads that incorporate actual multimedia. Photography for each issue generally includes links to pull up all the images from the shoot, not just the ones selected by the art director. Advertisers are typically not doing conventional ads, but sponsored content with video or other engaging hooks. It is kind of like watching a Directors Cut DVD of one of your favorite movies (browse at your own pace).

Viv is the first magazine created exclusively as a digital magazine.

Viv is the first magazine created exclusively as a digital magazine.

Even the cover demonstrates the difference between an all-digital and a print-to-digital publication. Visit vivmag.com , select the free preview, and click the VIVIFY This Cover digital belly band for a great show.

At the time of that digital conference, the Zinio rep told me they were readying an Apple iPhone mobile app version of the reader. Now, Zinio is on the new iPad. Strikes me as the perfect platform for delivering digital magazines in all their next-best-thing-to-print glory. With Apple’s loyal and ever-growing customer base, it’s only a matter of time before the iPad redefines the print experience for readers of magazines (via Zinio) and books (via Kindle).

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