Did the iPad just save Wired, and Conde-Nast?
High price, high sales, glossy ads, trebles all round
Saving the whole of the newspaper industry is a big ask, even for a "magical and revolutionary" device, but there might just be hope for the magazine business. The rapaciously-priced ($4.99 for this month's issue) iPad edition of Wired has comfortably outsold the somewhat cheaper print edition, and it's not even ad-free. On the contrary...
It's a success for 'definitely not free', which you might reckon is a problem for Chris Anderson, editor in chief of Wired and King of Free. Anderson however has been tetchily protesting - in between tweeting the digital edition's scorching sales figures - "For the umtpeenth time: FREE doesn't say everything should be free & The Long Tail doesn't say the blockbuster is dead." Still, it's a happy coincidence that exceptionalism should lie so close to home for him.
Clearly, we can't say how durable that exceptionalism is going to be until we've seen a couple more months' figures. Novelty value will have motivated some of the buyers, and sales will also have been boosted by the build-up for both the iPad and for Wired's first effort for it. And surely it's not feasible to just keep charging $4.99 a month when a year's sub to the paper edition can be had for $10. People are going to start saying, "hang on a minute…" But still, it does look like there might be something there.
Loads of money...
Apple takes a 30 per cent cut of an app's cover price, so if we estimate that Wired will move 90,000 copies this month, Conde-Nast (the publishing company) is looking at sales revenue in the region of $300,000. The seriously large (around 500 megabytes) app is also chock-full of what one presumes is high-ticket advertising, and there's an interesting innovation here - the clickability of Wired's advertisements is restricted.
Ordinarily, click anywhere on a web advertisement and it will fire into action, taking you away from the site and all too frequently presenting you with a not-entirely-fulfilling experience. Or worse, web advertising leaps out at you, and gets more and more annoying the more you try to ignore it. Wired's ads, on the contrary, are rather like Wired's print ads - you, the kind of rich, hip geek who laughs at $4.99 (I think myself into the part here) pause while you gaze contentedly at the car, the tech toy, the latest designer vodka. From New Zealand? What?