As the magazine for a digital generation, Wired has talked a big game about the opportunities for publishers on Apple’s new iPad.
“We decided this was the big one,” Wired editor Chris Anderson said last winter, even before Apple would comment on the much-rumored gadget.
Now it’s time for Anderson to put his money - and his magazine - where his mouth is. After nearly a year of laboring on a tablet computer edition of the magazine, Wired released its application in Apple’s digital newsstand on Wednesday.
Other titles from Conde Nast, including Vanity Fair and GQ, had already come out for the iPad, which launched April 3. But Wired is the first to undergo a top-to-bottom re-imagining for the new format. The magazine’s editorial staff built the issue at the same time it was putting the physical edition together. It features a piece about the latest “Toy Story” sequel on its cover.
To hear Anderson describe it, the process of adapting for the iPad is already prompting some soul searching about just what a magazine is.
“You start asking yourself first-principles questions, like ‘What is it that we do every month?”’ Anderson said in an interview on Tuesday.
Wired’s app has essentially two different layouts, one that can be seen when the iPad is turned on its side and another when it’s standing up. The text and photos are presented much as they would appear in a printed magazine, but optimized for the iPad’s dimensions. A reader can tap a button in the right hand corner to zoom out and scroll through the magazine’s pages in a kind of story-board format.
Most of the articles have features that go beyond what appears in the magazine. A reader can slide a finger across the screen to watch as a Lego Lamborghini takes shape step-by-step, compiled from 180 different images. Tapping buttons in a story about the rock band Nine Inch Nails brings up the individual tracks that make up a song.
Advertisers have new opportunities as well. Mercedes has a 30-second, high-definition video ad of the sort that would usually run on TV.
The catch: You’ll have to pay $4.99 for each issue, the same as the cover price for the printed version of Wired. It’s yet to be seen whether many readers will pay for an app when the Web site is free and just a few clicks away. Subscriptions, which in the case of Wired’s print edition can bring the cost down to $1 per issue, aren’t available yet through the iTunes store.
Anderson said the magazine will be experimenting with prices as it continues to tweak the application once readers get their hands on it.
“We don’t believe we have the answers,” he said. “But we have an experiment worth engaging in.”