Magazines on the iPad

The whole ethos is a magazine-like one of a closed system with lots of control — the exact opposite, really, of the internet, which is an open system where it’s very hard indeed to control the user experience. From a media-company point of view, this is all good. The ads on the iPad are not going to be annoying interruptions, like they are online and on TV; instead, they’re going to be attractive reasons to buy the app in the first place, just as people love to flick through the glossy ads in other publications, or love to stand in front of the huge animated American Eagle billboard in Times Square. From a brand-advertising perspective, the iPad could bring serious high-end ad dollars into the digital realm for the first time. From an open-web perspective, on the other hand, iPad app marks a clear retreat back towards what were once known as walled gardens. You can’t link to an iPad app, and it’ll probably be a while before someone similar even allows you to comment on a story there, with the comment stream being merged with the comments on the web version. An iPad app or story can never go viral, can never break out and achieve a life of its own, can never be remixed or reinvented. I’m not even sure whether there’s going to be any interest in updating iPad stories after they first appear. For the time being, everything iPad is clearly being driven by the design team, much more than by the editors and journalists, whose job is still to write and wrangle text We are very excited about both reading and writing for the iPad, I think it’s going to be lots of fun. I just hope that it doesn’t result in magazines deserting the web.

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