Inexpensive Apps for Magazines

From MIN:

Texterity and Wonderfactory Offer Mag Apps for Everyone Else
Thursday, December 2, 2010

As any of the major magazine publishers who have built their own iPad
magazine apps from scratch will admit, this is not a cheap, quick and
easy process. Hearst may be able to open an App Lab and Condé Nast may
have the pockets to create two different magazine app engines, but what
about the rest of the print world? “We think there are maybe 25 to 50
magazines that will end up with custom applications,” says Martin
Hensel, founder and president of Texterity, which has already helped
many consumer and b2b titles move their digital magazines onto iPads.
“We think everyone else will want a more cost effective solution that
doesn’t require a license, hiring new people and up front charges.
Serving “everyone else” is the thinking behind a new partnership between
Texterity and The Wonderfactory, which has helped build custom iPad
apps for both Sports Illustrated and Time magazines.
Early next year the two companies will roll out a cross-platform
publishing platform that allows magazines to craft tablet and smart
phone apps from existing digital content but use some of the whiz-bang
effects found in many custom builds.

The Wonderfactory has created a master interface design that will work
across iPad, iPhone, Android smart phone and Android tablets. “The
interfaces will vary somewhat by platform and screen size, but there
will be a family similarity among the four,” Hensel tells minonline. On
top of that interface Wonder Factory has devised a series of modules
that a publisher can apply for specific app effects such as 360-degree
views of scenes or objects, embedded slide shows, Twitter feeds, social
sharing, audio overlays, etc. All of these tools will be constructed in
HTML5 and be applicable across the app platforms.

Hensel says that the deal between Texterity and Wonderfactory plays to
both of their strengths and recognizes the natural limits of a
technology company when it comes to design. “We learned a lot from our
usability studies and watched others issue apps, and we came to respect
that the app experience is so intimate that the user interface is
critical. So early on, we went to Wonderfactory.”

Texterity is adding a new interface to its own digital publishing
platform and the current dashboard environment, and issue editor
customers now use will be extended to enable Web tools. Hensel says that
Texterity will handle the app uploads to the respective marketplaces
and so is asking for a 12 month commitment from clients who want to buy
into the program. But the aim of the offering is to contain app
development costs and yet produce magazine apps that are more creative
than some of the enhanced PDFs that often pose as apps today. The
per-issue cost will be $1500 plus separate fees for modules, which can
range between $200 and $500 based on their sophistication.

Hensel says that the iPad development platform should be available first
in January, with the Android smart phone support in March, iPhone in
April and Android tablet by the end of June.

The app development tools field is going to be some of the most hotly
contested terrain in publishing in coming years. Developing
sophisticated apps on a single mobile platform is hard and costly
enough, but having to support multiple platforms and screen sizes is
tortuous and often cost prohibitive. On paper, the deal seems smart, in
that Texterity already has a credible iPad development engine and
Wonderfactory made a splash with its Sports Illustrated
partnership. No doubt publishers outside of the very top tier will be
looking for solutions that not only contain cost but still take better
advantage of the touch interfaces than current translations of digital
magazines. But the market is no doubt going to get cluttered with
competition in short order.

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