Category Archives: Digital publishing

A spanner in the works of publishing and content

Setting a new level of high-definition, but at a cost for publishers and content creators.

The new iPad is proving to be another challenge in the constantly evolving world of digital publishing and content marketing.

Following up on yesterday’s post, new iPad owners were critical of the pixelation of the text and the photos contained in some of the editions that have not been optimised for the higher resolution of the market-leading tablet. Vogue were the first to address this by offering an optimised version of their latest issue, bumping up the file size from 280MB to 408MB.

Now for argument’s sake, if we take an increase of 30-50% in file size as the benchmark for all other publishers, it poses a serious problem for the overall effectiveness of the new iPad as a publishing tool, or indeed as a multimedia platform for displaying high-definition content in general.

Casting our gaze over the current panoply of high-definition offerings, we see that consumers can readily access it on their Full HD televisions and computers, as well as apparatus such as Blu-ray players or cable provider DVRs. We’re talking serious hardware, built for the pressures of large file sizes by using hard disc drives and optical cables for the streaming of HD content.

The fact of the matter is that contrary to the ever-improving memory capacity of desktop computers and DVRs, the iPad has had a maximum of 64GB of memory capacity for over 2 years, with many consumers opting for the more cost-effective smaller capacities. Subsequently, users have to constantly decide what apps to delete and install when new content comes along.

Can we consider the new iPad’s ‘resolutionary’ display a consumer gimmick, created more to impress than to be of actual functionality and service to a user? Quite likely! Would a larger memory capacity or USB ports have been a more pragmatic addition to the new iPad? Quite possibly. Will the increased file size needed to display content convince people to take out a subscription or make frequent purchases of hi-res copies of the magazine app? Quite unlikely! The trade-off of sacrificing more memory for the sake of a pin-sharp photo in a magazine just isn’t there.

Like the film, technology and entertainment industry that are growing on the back of signficant improvements in high-definition offering, publishers and content marketers in general will have to wait for a similar jump in iPad hardware specification to be able to take advantage of the screen the iPad has to offer consumers.

So until Apple increases the memory capacity of the iPad in line with the more generous offerings of ultrabooks or even the Macbook Air (which mostly feature flash memories between 128 and 256GB), it will always be a hard-sell for high-definition content to command consumer’s attention (and spend) when it comes to tablet devices.

Then again, there is always the 300dpi resolution of magazines printed on paper… Now there’s an idea for high-definition content!

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Digital Publishing and its many guises

apple iPad

After two days of near continuous bombardment of new tendencies, a cornucopia of packed and insightful seminars and keynote speeches, (the usual) overpriced bites to eat, and “market-leading-solution-we-are-the-answer-to-all-your-problems” sales speak, I am just about to start browsing the piles of magazines and literature that I’ve amassed from the Publishing Expo as well as the TFM&A.

Having spent Tuesday and Wednesday at Earl’s Court 2 (an improvement on the slightly run-down Olympia from past years), I would like to just summarise a bit of the whirlwind of developments that the content marketing and digital publishing industry are having to take in.

Before I go into more detail, there are two glaring points about the Publishing Expo I would like to make:

1. Adobe was indeed the overall event sponsor, but I was surprised to see they were not exhibiting. Is this a sign they are getting comfortable with the lead their publishing suite, including Adobe DPS, has over the competition?

2. The iPad was the reigning tablet to showcase mobile publishing and marketing solutions. Not a single Android tablet to be seen, even in the cases of developers having solutions or working towards versions of apps for this platform.

And now on with the show…

What’s your flavour?

If the explosion of apps wasn’t concern enough for a professional trying to get their brand, creation or deliverable out there to the time-hungry and fickle world of consumers and punters, we now have the benefit (and perhaps headache) of having multiple routes we can go down in the quest for the publishing and marketing ‘silver bullet’.

The exhibitors at the show cater to different budgets and objectives, most of them squarely aimed at the tablet publishing market. Some are effective and simple (or reductive, depending on your view of things);  others have a cornucopia of bells and whistles to choose from: Mag+, Readz, Dennis Publishing, Zinio, Yudu, Pressrun, Pagesuite, eMagCreator, Magazine Cloner, are examples of the different approaches used.

If I were to add to the mix the suppliers that I have come across in past exhibitions, case study presentations or on projects I have worked on, the list goes on: eDition, Onswipe,  Issuu, Flipping Book, and numerous other big and small operators. In the case of Readz and Onswipe, for example, we’re not even talking about an iOS or Android app, per se, as these are nascent examples of web-based or web-optimised content browsing solutions, that are becoming a valid alternative to your ‘traditional’ platform-based application solutions.

Brave New World

All of the above-mentioned suppliers are clambering for their share of the ever-evolving and increasingly inter-woven market of ‘grabbing people’s attention and making them do something after seeing your message’. The result is that most brands, agencies or publishers can no longer lounge in the luxury of being a platform or iPad-only specialist.

For all of us with any kind of history in the communication, media, publishing or marketing industry, we are riding the tidal waves caused by the speed of change in the last few years. We are coming to realise that survival lies with a varied mix of multi-platform, integrated, attractive, informative, engaging, entertaining and easy to navigate information and content. And if we can have that with some magic pixie dust in the form of viral content, social media buzz or mass-market news exposure, then we’re one step closer to marketing zen, publishing nirvana or brand heaven.

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