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iPad: iLaunch, therefore iAm
by Sam McMillan

As for advertisements, movies are no-brainers. Click on an ad for Eclipse, for example, view a trailer, then purchase tickets using Fandango. On an iPad it’s a seamless process, one that holds the promise of actually simplifying a reader’s life, instead of adding to the visual clutter, and interrupting the experience of interacting with a magazine.

Warren Buffet or Jimmy Buffet? Hot Studio had to develop the Zinio iPad app for a range of magazines, understanding that the experience of reading The Economist would differ radically from Rolling Stone.

As Dev sums up, “With the launch of the iPad, the magazine has been reborn.”

For magazine publishers, the iPad holds out the promise of rebirth on a new platform that offers deeper engagement, and a new way to sell ads, the lifeblood of the publishing industry. For some publishers it’s a development that may have come a year too late. According to the Publishers Information Bureau, magazines lost 58,340 ad pages in 2009. What does that mean for magazines? Death. Crain’s New York Business reports that 367 magazines closed in 2009, although that's down from 526 in 2008.

At Wired, the flagship magazine for geek culture, creative director Scott Dadich has breathed new life into the static format. Remember “convergence,” that favorite buzzword of the 1990s print, video, photos, music, interactivity, Web connectivity, mobility, the gestural interface. It’s here, and it’s on the Wired Magazine App for the iPad.

Dadich saw the iPad for the first time just like we did, with Apple’s announcement on January 27. Within months, Dadich and his team at Wired launched the June issue, which promptly outsold the print version. The publishing world would never be the same.

Dadich was able to get up to speed so quickly because he and Wired editor Chris Anderson had been working together for months before the Apple hub-bub, building prototypes, creating digital experiments, and thinking strategically about how a reader might engage with a magazine in a tablet environment.

“At Wired we’re always asking, ‘How do you best express the potential of ideas and technology,’” Dadich explains. “So when it comes to a platform like the iPad, it’s important that Wired walk the talk.”

For the 42 staffers at Wired, including a design team of 7, that means the walls between print and digital are erased. Instead of thinking of a magazine for print and a magazine for the iPad, Dadich says the team tries to design a single frame for content, no matter what its application.

A case in point, Dadich points to “the Will Film.” In August, Wired featured Will Ferrell as its cover boy. Inside the print magazine, elaborate photoshoots placed Ferrell in a science fiction fever dream of flying cars, death rays and food in a pill. Buy the print magazine and you get funny photos of Ferrell. On the iPad, you get that plus a Will Ferrell movie. It’s short, it’s funny and it’s got great production values. You can almost hear the dope slaps as magazine publishers realize how high the bar for publishing content has been raised by Wired for the iPad. “Oh great, now we're in the movie business!?”

Data point: The Wired Magazine App for iPad outsold the print version. With on-board video clips of Will Ferrell, he future’s funnier than ever.

As Dadich says, “We put a lot of effort and energy in to creating the sets, lighting and wardrobe for our photoshoots. It’s an incremental effort to take that and make it into a short film.”

In the future, Dadich promises more along these lines, including, dynamic data, Web connectivity and social sharing. As he says, “Content creates conversation. Now, on the iPad we have a way of bringing conversation into the content.”

On the strength of his success launching the Wired iPad app, Dadich is now the executive director of digital magazine development for Condé Nast magazines. Which means the lessons learned producing the Wired iPad app will now be leveraged to the Condé Nast publishing empire as it transitions from print to pixels.

The iPad and the iPad App Store have created an ecosystem that will revolutionize the way software is designed and sold. No longer will designers be forced to buy bloated, expensive, one-size-fits-all software. Instead of a $599 sledgehammer to drive a tack, we'll be able to buy a tack hammer. And the price: anywhere from free to $50. As of this writing the most popular downloads on the App Store are productivity apps. Apple’s Pages, Keynote and Numbers lead the way, and at $9.99 each, why not? For consumers seeking to add functionality to their iPad, it’s a no-brainer. McMillan
Sam McMillan is a San Francisco Bay Area-based writer, teacher and producer of interactive multimedia projects for a number of Bay Area production houses, and can be reached at