Spectator’s iPad Mag Will Have Monthly ‘Pay Membrane’

The Spectator is amongst the magazines that will have iPad versions on or after the gadget’s April 3 U.S. launch day.

E-edition software supplier Exact Editions launched a pay-for replica page-turner iPhone app for the politics weekly back in September, and has submitted modified versions for several of its clients’ mags to Apple (NSDQ: AAPL) for iPad approval.

“The Exact Editions magazines are the first to be using Apple’s recommended in-app purchasing model for magazine subscriptions,” Exact’s co-founder Adam Hodgkin claims to paidContent:UK.

Spectator’s iPhone costs £0.59 for one week’s issue, plus follow-up £0.59 fees for new issues. “We will be using a freemium model with the Spectator and other apps released for the iPad,” Hodgkin adds. “The freemium approach will be a key issue for thinking about ‘paid content’ and the iPhone system as a promotional market place.”

In September, Spectator.co.uk remained free but started charging for content from the mag, putting the print mag itself, and digital versions thereof, at the top of its subscription strategy.

Hodgkin: “These freemium apps will allow users of the free app to read some pages of the magazine issue-by-issue, as it is published, for free. Therefore, every week, the user of the freemium app gets an enhanced and free ‘alert’ service and can, from within the free app, at any time purchase a sub.

“We think that this freemium approach is one way in which apps on the iPhone can finesse some of the difficulties with the ‘paywall’ strategies that commercial publishers are trying to avoid and embrace right now. More of a pay membrane than a paywall. The subscriber will also be able to read the one subscription on different systems.

“Exact Editions will also move to offering 30-day subs as the subscription offer for all its magazines. Furthermore the free version of the app only offers access to the current issue, whereas the purchaser of the 30-day sub has archival access.

The app will have a different interface on the iPad than on the iPhone (though obviously related) and the same codebase. There is quite a lot that one can do with the extra space. Showing full pages in a readable resolution is obviously a good start.”

In our opinion, page-turner replica editions are ill-suited to either the mobile (re-worked menus work better) or laptops and desktops (web pages lend themselves to mouse clicks more than page turns). But magazine-sized tablets could be the natural outlet for this kind of interface, and for representing good-looking mag page layouts…

We have recently seen a spectrum of concepts for magazines being re-imagined on iPad – from humble page-turners to whizz-bang interactive editions. Exact Editions’ apps, which also include Standpoint magazine, err toward the former but add searching, live web links, click-to-call phone numbers, CoverFlow-style issue browsing, bookmarking, and visibility of pages to Google…

Undeniably, the experience will be better on the iPad than on the iPhone,” says Hodgkin. “We have seen enough of them running on the iPad simulator to be confident that the iPad reading and browsing experience will be delightful,” Hodgkins says.

“We are still in Apple’s hands on the delivery of iPad versions. We have some in their evaluation process already, but there is no guarantee that they will be approved by launch date.”