By Tim Burrowes
ALTHOUGH somewhat late to the party, my company has finally made the plunge into tablet publishing.
I’m certain we’ve made some terrible mistakes. Unfortunately, I don’t know what they are yet.
What I do know is that the main point of the exercise this time around was to make those blunders so we can do better next time.
Over the last couple of years, it’s dawned on me that when new technologies come along, the right time to get into them is not necessarily once they are proven.
Sometimes you can only be ready for the breakthrough technology by having gone through the process of using its predecessor.
When I got into Twitter, it wasn’t with the expectation that it would become a major driver for our online traffic, although that has happily proven to be the case.
We made plenty of errors in our early days with it.
I’m even less certain the iPad will solve our problems, despite having now jumped in.
Like many publishers, we have a thriving website, Mumbrella.com.au, and an ailing – in commercial terms at least – magazine, Encore.
In April we launched an iPad app for Encore in the hope it would be part of its transition to a non-print future.
There may be many mistakes we have already made.
Our choices of platform included the likes of Adobe, Woodwing, a Quark-base or some sort of bespoke service.
We went with Oomph. So far, so good.
But I’m guessing that it will be at least six months before we’ve learned enough to be sure.
Then there was the decision to go the app route. Why not simply build something in HTML5 that’s beautiful on any platform? It does, I admit, worry me, that we’ll find ourselves messing around with multiple editions.
And was it the right thing to go for the iPad when Google’s Android operating system is coming on strong? I’ll have to let you know.
Once, having committed to the iPad, did we do the right thing going for a paid model? So far, our experience suggests about a tenth of those who downloaded the free app then pay.
Would an audience ten times bigger bring in more ad revenue than our small initial number of subscribers? I don’t know yet.
And is the price – A$4.49 for one edition or A$19.99 for six – correct? It’s a steep discount on the print edition. Again, I don’t know.
Then, there are lessons we have learned about commissioning and creating content for print and tablet. We’re already a multimedia publisher but still having to think about how we do things.
Unless we make publishing and editorial mistakes, we won’t be in a position to create our next big thing.
Tim Burrowes is editor-in-chief of media and marketing website Mumbrella. Follow him on Twitter @mumbrella