Print publications are lining up to offer digital interactive versions of their wares on Apple's iPad and other tablet-shaped readers -- but there's a problem.
Many of the coolest aspects of a digital version of static print magazines include multimedia and interactive content. Because Apple's iPad doesn't support Adobe Flash and Air multimedia technology, many publishers are wrestling with how to program their digital content for multiple platforms -- be it Apple's iPad, HP's Windows based Slate tablet, or tablets based on the Android operating system.
Apple has yet to reach a consensus with Adobe over Flash and Air on the iPad. This puts publishers are in limbo over the future look, feel, and functionality of digital magazines. With several tablets coming this year, publishers won't be able to code once and publish anywhere because Apple isn't going to allow Flash on iPads and iPhones any time soon.
The iPad has been heralded as a saviour for the declining sales of magazines, with publishers revving up for the launch of the Apple tablet. But Conde Nast, which has titles such as Wired and GQ, has to decide whether to leave Adobe's Flash platform behind and embrace Apple's platform.
Just a few weeks before the iPad becomes available, Conde Nast reiterated its plans for a whole bunch of digital magazines for the iPad, including titles such as Wired, GQ, Vanity Fair and The New Yorker, the New York Times reports. The first digital issues are expected to arrive as soon as April.
Wired gave us a taste of a digital version of the magazine in February, showing off a demo made using Adobe's Air platform. But there was one oversight: Adobe's Air and Flash platforms do not, and most probably will not, work on the iPad or the iPhone. Now, the publisher is split between Apple and Adobe, All Things Digital reports.
So what do you do when you prepared a digital version of your magazine using a technology unsupported on the device you want to sell it on? Condé Nast title GQ has a popular iPhone version of the magazine, which sold around 22,000 copies for the December and January issues combined, yet the iPhone version is more of a static rendition of the magazine rather than the interactive demo of the Wired magazine we've seen.
Apple is not showing any signs backing down on its no-Adobe Flash policy, so Conde Nast will go into a "R&D period" until October, developing for the iPad and using Adobe's platform side by side until it figures out which direction to take, according to All Things Digital.
While it's clear that digital magazine applications for the iPad and iPhone will be exclusive for the platform, versions developed using Adobe Air or Flash would work on tablets running Microsoft Windows, such as the HP Slate introduced in January. However, interest in tablets running Windows is not as high as the buzz the iPad has generated.