TIME Magazine for iPad (All Access): What Works…

I bought an e-issue of TIME magazine for my iPad on April 4, 2010 (the day the iPad became available) and wrote:

Time Magazine iPad App a Huge Disappointment

My list of complaints from 2010 are listed below. Comments based on the 2011 experience are under each numbered 2010 item:

1. Its $4.99 price tag is too expensive. It should be priced no more than $1.99. In fact, if it wants eye-balls and buzz, it should have priced it at 99 cents. $52 per year per iPad user is a pretty good revenue stream for something that doesn’t require publishing presses, physical distribution, physical racking, and returns.

- Individual issues still cost $4.99 each. However, TIME’s $36 All Access plan provides both a year-long paper magazine subscription and access to content on the iPad. This works out to 69 cents per issue (paper & electronic).

2. It is a single issue (April 12) in a single app. It does not provide a way to get future issues or dip into Time’s valuable archives.

- This changed in an app update several months after the initial release.

3. There is no in-app purchasing feature for future issues.

- This changed in an app update several months after the initial release.

4. Its navigation is not intuitive. Sometimes movement is side-to-side (like a magazine). Other times it is a vertical scroll with no indication that content is available below the botton of the iPad’s screen.

- The app now provides small but useful indicators like the one seen here “Scroll to read more” in strategic locations to let the reader know where, literally, more content is available. There are also indicators like the “To here to read” indicators to pop up text boxes to provide context for many of the large photos in an issue.

5. Turning “pages” is not smooth. It sometimes requires several swipes to get to a page.

- Left-right and up-down scrolling is now smooth.

6. The app does not remember where I was if I exit it and return it later. It always starts at the cover.

- This is not the case now.

I was somewhat surprised that back issues are separate purchases for subscribers. This duplicates the traditional paper issue model. I wonder though, if it makes sense with an electronic delivery model.

TIME magazine’s recent app and subscription changes have addressed all of the problems I surfaced back in April 2010.

The biggest surprise after more than a year since the last time I looked at the TIME app is that there are not any third party advertisements anywhere in the issue. The only advertisement is on the very last page and is for TIME’s own TIME Cover Store.

Note: TIME provided a subscription for use in reviewing the app and its content.

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