Tuesday, November 30, 2010
The hype surrounding smart phones and tablets has put magazine publishers in a box. It almost forces them to have a mobile digital distribution strategy in order to survive and prosper. IDC market estimates have smartphone penetration in Canada at 20% and its skews MOPEs (Managers, Owners, Professionals & Entrepreneurs), and young men 18-25, a good fit for B2B publications and men’s consumer magazines.

Engagement of readers on mobile devices according to Flurry on the iPhone and Android devices show that entertainment, games, lifestyle, news and social networking were the activities most used on the smartphone with time spent ranging from 5-10 minutes.


I estimate the future make-up of a free B2B magazine will consist of 65% print and 35% digital editions. The 35% digital will be comprised of mobile readers scattered amongst many devices. ( I will explore paid consumer titles in a future posting) A survey of PenWell Publishing readers, a B2B USA based publisher shows a snapshot of what type of devices readers prefer for their digital magazines.


For B2B magazines the importance of the Blackberry for the corporate market cannot be undervalued. The Blackberry has grown primarily as the best email device for corporate users with keyboard that is easier to type than the touch keypad. I have chatted with people that have switch back to Blackberry after using the iPhone because they were heavy email users. My biggest pain is that smartphones are too small for me with my big hands.

Here are some of the latest devices that are available to consumers this Christmas buying season:


Key  Features- Email, Phone, Camera, Media Player, wifi

Screen Size
– 3.2 inch touch screen

Key Board – Touch and pull-out key board

Operating System – Blackberry 6.0

Blackberry Apps - 7-10,000 apps with a million downloads a day


Key  Features- Email, Phone, Camera, Media Player, wifi

Screen Size – 3.5 inch touch screen

Key Board – Touch only

Operating System
– Android

Android Apps
 - Over 80,ooo apps available


Key  Features- Email, Phone, Camera, Media Player, wifi

Screen Size
– 3.2 inch touch screen

Key Board – Pull out wide keyboard

Operating System – Android

Android Apps - Over 80,000 apps available


Key  Features- Email, Phone, Video Phone, Camera, Media Player, wifi

Screen Size – 3.5 inch diagonal touch screen

Key Board – Touch only

Operating System – Apple

Apple Apps - Over 250,000 apps available

What the industry is realizing that a digital replica of their magazine will not work on a 3.5 inch screen. It must be optimized for a smaller screen. When I was on the agency side we always designed for the medium so this principle also applies for magazine publishers. This can be done as a mobile app,  mobile website or optimized digital edition.

To create an app opens a can of worms for magazine publishers, as you will need to create an app based on the smartphone manufacturer. The market has formed where you will need to create an app for Apple, Blackberry and Android devices. You might also have to create one for a Microsoft and HP/Palm too if their latest smartphone gets a following in the marketplace. There is a  need for a cross platform digital publishing solution that works on all devices that won’t break the bank.

An early adopter of mobile content delivery in Canada is Transcontinental-published The Hockey News, who reported at the 2010 ABC annual meeting in Toronto that they have surpassed 1 million downloads of their mobile app. So we know there is a market to grow our brands in.

Monday, November 15, 2010
A 7-inch colour screen eReader has been introduced in Canada by Samsung. The Samsung Galaxy Tab has a touch interface, phone, email, music, camera, and video chat. An impressive array of features for the Swiss Army mobile device model. Screen quality was HD and it supported Flash, so you can watch all the video you want. At first glance the interaction was similar to an Apple user experience. Even though it felt Apple-like the operating system developed by Google is a different technology architecture — Android 2.2.

Android is an open source software available to any mobile device manufacturer that wishes to use it for free. Device manufacturers can then adapt and customize the software code for their hardware and applications. Manufacturers using Android include Acer, Samsung, HTC and Motorola. According to Nielsen it is the largest and fastest growing ecosystem of mobile users in addition to Apple and Blackberry based on an August 2010 report. See chart below for more information.


As with all device manufacturers trying to create an ecosystem of users around their technology, Samsung is no different. It is marketing a reader, media and social “hubs” that will offer books, magazines, news, TV shows, movies, gaming, and Facebook as part of its content strategy. Its reader Hub has made a distribution agreement with Press Display, a newspaper digital content provider, for the distribution of news. See a product video at this link.


The Samsung Galaxy Tab Scorecard

The gadgets in this blog for eReaders will be based on a scorecard and will be evaluated on these four criteria to arrive at the score.

Download Speeds: This device can be connected to a 3G wireless network or wi-fi, so access to content will depend on the speed of your network. It supports Flash so it will enable you to watch Flash enabled websites and videos. The Galaxy Tab has a 1.0 GHz processor which will make it faster than some computers. There are over 80,000 apps available for Android devices. To access some extra features require that you register with Google if you want to use them.

Readability: The 7-inch colour screen means your typical website will be a little hard to read but content optimized for mobile devices will be easier with a larger screen than your typical smartphone. The touch screen interface worked smoothly. I looked at The Toronto Star website and found the iPhone version of The Toronto Star emerged, not the full web version. When I went to digital editions of magazines the iPhone version was displayed. It seems that servers are recognizing the device as an iPhone and sending content based on this.

Navigation: This can be considered a clone of the Apple user experience and it appears that the industry is standardizing on a user interface as the latest Blackberry Torch offers a similar experience. This standardization of the navigation is welcome news for users as they do not have to go on a major learning curve if they switch devices. One wart was that the tablet would vibrate anytime I did something, which I found irritating, but it can be turned off.

Price/Feature Value: The product is just being released in Canada and pricing plans have not yet been announced. The Galaxy Tab is available in the USA at T-Mobile for $399 for a two-year plan and $599 with no contract. The tablet is well priced in the market at $599 with the Apple iPad ($550 for wi-fi model) and it comes with more features than the iPad that include video calling, camera and phone.

The Gadget Report Rating 4.5 out of 5: 
After playing with a variety of gadgets I seem to gravitate to the 7-inch colour screen as my preferred mobile device for a variety of reasons. It is small enough to fit in my pocket, but big enough for me to see and read and hold in one hand. The expected price point of $599 might still be a little high for me though. Typing on a 7-inch touch screen is easier than your typical 3.5 inch smartphone screen. The ability to do video calling is a nice added feature that is not available in the iPad.

One word of caution for publishers is widespread adoption of tablets will not happen until voice and data plans are merged into one and sold based on consumption rates like electricity versus current industry pricing practices. Currently, it is estimated that  15-25% of Canadians have a smartphone.

Monday, November 01, 2010
The Apple iPad provides the convenience of print, online and a bit more. It enables you to engage with magazine content in a manner similar in dimensions to your typical magazine with full color. While it is still early to predict the final look and feel for digital magazines, so  the next couple years will be fun to watch in the magazine industry.

If you have an iPhone or iTouch you will find it a seamless transition to use this device. If you are a new user you will be wowed by the Apple product for its cool factor, ease of use, quality workmanship and the touch screen technology. You also have over 250,000 applications (and growing) to choose including the iBook store from Apple. The Apple iPad, is just a larger version of the iTouch according Ryan Winsborrow from Nerds for Hire, my geek associates who fix all my computers.

Magazine publishers are leveraging the benefits of the iPad app store to create a paid digital newsstand model for single copy and subscription sales.  The store is like the new “Walmart” and is a new entry point for online retail sales for publishers to generate sales in a new market. We will review how different publishers are reinventing themselves in future postings.

The Apple iPad Scorecard

The gadgets in this blog for e-readers will be based on a scorecard and will be evaluated on these 4 criteria to arrive at the score. See a product video at this link

The Apple iPad has a 9.6 inch LED backlit diagonal screen that weighs 1.5 lbs and is .5 inches thick. Battery life is estimated at 10 hours which is better than the iPhone. It retails in Canada starting from $550.

Download Speeds
– The Apple iPad is synchronized with your Apple iTunes account for music, movies and apps. Download speeds were not an issue with the device as your download speed is dependent on your internet service provider (I was using the wifi model not the 3G). The big debate is whether the devices should support Flash technology for video, banners etc. Apple says no. One of Flash technology’s warts is the slower download speeds due to large file sizes. The iPad crashed when downloading files over 10meg in size when I tried to open it, so it looks like smart decision by Apple.

Readability – As expected readability with a 9.7 inch screen was not an issue and colour is always better than B&W, but unlike the e-ink technology you cannot read the Apple iPad in sunlight/outdoor conditions, so the beach is out. To read PDFs requires you to email to yourself and then it can be read on the device. You can store the PDfs in your Free  iBooks APP library. I was concerned about reading on the device for extended periods that may cause eye strain due to the backlit LED display, but it was not a problem.

Navigation – The browser being used in the Apple iPad is the same as the iPhone which is  slimmed down version of the Desktop Safari browser with fewer features. The touch technology glow is finally wearing off for me and some of my concerns with touch screens were the number of accidental touches that redirected me to unwanted pages – “the big finger syndrome”. You also cannot not have more than one application open at one time when using the iPad.

Price/Feature Value – The starting cost of $550 make the Apple iPad priced comparably to buying a laptop and this question the consumer must take into consideration when purchasing the device.  There all a whole bunch of accessories that you can purchase that includes case, keyboard, docking station and external monitor connection. The iPad supports the reading of Microsoft office files, but not Appleworks which is ironic that Apple does not support its own software. If you get the 3G model data plans are available starting from $15/mo for 250 meg and make sure you get a free SIM card for the vendor to you wish to sign-up with. There is a tug of war going on with the telcos and Apple over the control of the data plans and how they are sold to customer.

The Gadget Report Rating
: 4 out of 5

As with all device purchases timing is key. If you buy too early it will be expensive and if you wait prices will come down and the feature set will improve. The market is banking on Apple replicating the success of the iPhone (50 million have been sold) and how  iTunes has dominated the music industry. As of this writing there were 4.19 million iPads sold worldwide. There is a herd mentality in the marketplace for new e-Readers as new products from Dell, Acer, Blackberry, Samsung, HP are in the work...so there is more to come in 2011.
About Me
Martin Seto

Martin Seto is the producer of the Canadian Online Publishing Awards (COPAS) with 30 years of life expereince in technology, advertising, media and creative exploration. He can be reached at marty(dot)seto(at)
reflexmediasales.com or 416-907-6562, and on LinkedIn.

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