AS IT turns out, the Internet is dramatically altering the contents of the magazine itself in the age of tablet computers like the iPad. In a simple sentence, magazines are passe, and what I call "appzines" could be the future. You can now download interactive content on your handheld device and view, listen or read your stuff whenever you want.
I got a first-hand feel of the new "rich media" environment last week with a demonstration of Notchmag (www.notchmag.com ) that calls itself India's first digital lifestyle magazine.
Started from scratch for the age of the tablet by a Chennai-based group, its key part is the way you can play around with it in a touchscreen environment.
You can jump pages at a flick of a thumb, read on food and open a recipe in a link, and suddenly, in the middle of a page, spot a picture that navigates you into a full-blown presentation or video interview.
The key point is in the way audio recordings, presentations, videos, slide shows and text articles come together in a new app environment. This dramatically enhances the potential of the magazine (or for that matter, newspapers) in the digital era.
Many Western publications are already on this route.
A recent study in the US by GfK MRI on magazine readers aged between 18 and 34 (called the millenials) showed that among those who owned a smartphone, 83% accessed a magazine-branded app through a digital newsstand.
The price of cheaper Android-platform smartphones in India is now entering the sub Rs. 3,000 zone and tablets are in the sub Rs. 6,000-zone. You can safely expect to see dozens of millions of them in India in two or three years.
Now, Notchmag, which is available for both Apple iOS and Android platforms, is targeted at non-resident Indians.
But the growth of tablets and smartphones in India means magazine apps could grow str-ongly here as well as promote sheer convenience in distribution and richness in content.
We also now have what the tech industry calls an "ecosystem" to help digital magazines.
Notchmag used MagPlus (www.magplus.com) that helps easy creation of magazine apps. There is an online directory of magazine apps called MagApps.com.
And there are digital newsstands like Zinio (www.zinio.com ) that help subscription-based distribution of magazine apps. Zinio itself is available as an app. Magazine apps apps are also sold on Google's app store, Play, and of course, Apple's iTunes store.