Time Inc’s “Manhattan Project” Is A Tablet Magazine

- - The Future

TechCrunch has the goods on Time Inc’s solution to the demise of print media:

Since last summer, Time Inc has been working on a “Manhattan Project” to create a digital magazine for the new breed of color tablet computers soon to come to market. (Condé Nast is also working on a similar concept). Today, I got a sneak peak at a demo of the tablet magazine designed for Sports Illustrated.

Read the story (here).

Here’s a demo of Sport Illustrated on the tablet:


Note the importance of exclusive photography. I also think when navigating by thumbnails photography will be so important to the design.

Gizmodo thinks Time Inc. is high (here):

…But please, satisfy my curiosity before I get on my knees and bow down before your genius: How is this different from a web page? Other than costing ten times as much to produce, that is.

Never mind, I will tell you how: It’s a lot worse. It’s just pasting an old medium into a new one, painting the resulting clusterfuck with two layers of thick varnish.

I feel like anything that mimics a magazine experience on a computer or tablet is simply a stop gap for people who need that familiar look and feel (and annoying page turning sounds). I see no point in passing the limitations of a magazine into a limitless medium like a tablet computer. But, there’s no reason it can’t evolve. You have to start somewhere.

thx for the tip Dylan.

There Are 29 Comments On This Article.

  1. Wow, that is surprisingly similar to what I can get on espn.com today!

    Where do I sign-up?

    Here’s the real question. Where’s all of that “exclusive and unique” content going to come from? Most of the people that can produce it have already been disposed of. Those left are working around the clock for less money in a work for hire scheme.

    Questions? Umm… look bikinis!

    Great content is the only thing that will save these magazines, and it might be too late even for that.

    http://kennethjarecke.typepad.com/mostly_true/2009/12/manhattan-project-to-produce-another-bomb.html

  2. This is the future.

    With the advent of more still cameras having video this could be a fantastic opportunity.
    Though we as photographers will have to incorporate the possible usages in our quotes.

    New job potential for content providers, motion graphic designers, etc…

    A major plus for the magazines.
    multiple subscription rates depending on the amount of ads you want to see.
    Regional ads
    Imagine the revenue stream the publishers can get from this.
    Not just static ads but, comercials, ads that change depending on the time/day.
    Think “game starts in 30 min click here to view pre-game”.
    The tablet will probably have WiFi so content could be dynamic. Think news stories updating.
    The mind reels.
    mdr

  3. Allow me to play devils advocate here for a sec. Sure it may be the future, sure its cutting edge, sure its….ahem….. glorified webpages. But, what are the chances of us years from now discussing about how we miss the printed piece? Actually being able to hold it in our hands and see it on physical media, vesus a backlit screen, to see how it flows, the intended presentation, the weight, the feel, etc…….

    All sort of like what the past few weeks of inter-related blogs have been discussing in terms of photography marketing efforts in light of the printed promo vs email promo, the website vs the “book” and what is preferred and noticed, vs what is disregarded. Just an observation.

    • @christian,
      I feel like magazine have been trying to become websites for a long time now and when they can finally go back to being magazines their value will go up with certain advertisers and readers. It may not make publishers into billionaires but it will certainly still be profitable to publish a magazine.

      • @A Photo Editor,Oh no dont get me wrong, I am all for it, I think the more avenues we have to access information the better to a degree. Didnt you guys notice my devil horns? ;-) I was just chuckling because it seemed to mirror a lot of the current discussion a lot of us are having regarding the presentation of our own media. It seems that a lot of the photographer/ AD, CD topics deal with who focusses efforts where, and what works and gets noticed vs what gets deleted, spammed, or used as a doorstop. It may very well eventually end up with history repeating itself. Who knows, one day we all may be saying “Yeah, my tablet this or my virtual magazine that, but I miss the days of curling up next to the fire with my hound dog, my smoking jacket, and a tall glass of Ovaltine and actually turning a page”

    • @christian,
      I meant it as a new medium that may well save a lot of magazines and newspapers.
      I love my records and have transferd them to play on my iPhone. I still listen to my turntable, but I can cary my iPhone with me on the subway.
      This will, of course, initially be for the cutting edge people that have to have the latest gizmo.
      But look at it this way. When (not if) apple releases their tablet it will also be a connected computer (3g, WiFi Bluetooth, etc…). you will be able to replace your laptop, students will be able to replace their backpacks full of text books(when the publishers start releasing them, with the ability to make notes).
      The opportunities are mind bogling.
      Will it truly replace the tactile feel and fluidity of the printed page? No.
      Just another medium.
      mdr

  4. Gizmodo wants to know how this is different from a website?

    I suggest they take a look at the typography and readability at si.com which, like almost all websites, basically sucks and compare it to what we just saw in that demo. If the print media can convert to a single, elegant, platform that allows for real art direction rather than the web, with its six ‘safe’ fonts and no color management, still bearing all the scars of the browser wars, it will be a make a step in right direction. I would much rather read something like this than a page of html.

  5. I don’t know if it might be successful but it will make a great portfolio, especially if Apple designs one…I have been waiting a long time for something for my own personal consumption…I will send it out as a portfolio but probably won’t read mags on them…I read books anyway… nevertheless, they need to make them 1/8 to 1/4 inch thick and as good as an iphone, not the phone part(those are horrid), the other part of the iphone…. what is ridiculous about his is how freaking wedded they are to their damn magazine format… what’s wrong with these people…?

  6. I am all for innovation.

    What I don’t get is where a tablet would actually fit into a persons day-to-day life, if they already have a phone (iPhone, Blackberry) and a laptop or netbook. Both of which could deliver this content.

    Surely a person isn’t going to carry a phone, laptop and a tablet? And why would you have a tablet at home, if you already have a laptop or desktop?

  7. Anyone else notice this hilarity?

    “The Eagles aren’t doing too bad…” while looking at:

    Breaking News
    EAGLE DENIES
    PUNCHING
    GIRLFRIEND

  8. I am dating myself, the first video game I played was pong and look at the technology now. I think we can expect media to follow suit, but they are way behind the power curve and are loosing massive amounts of revenue because of it.

    I think those who stated printed media will remain are correct. I don’t like audio books or reading ebooks. I don’t connect.

    So lets root on technology to improve,and get cheaper. I think laptops/notebooks will eventually fade away. I could be wrong.

    To read a magazine on the web or read a blog, I’ll read the blog.

  9. Americans want their content cheap/free, it has been that way for a long time. Magazines did well because they are cheap, tv is popular because it is free (well, cable is expensive and jacked up, but when not given a choice we will pay). We will spend a pile of cash on a fancy mp3 player/lcd tv/laptop though because we justify it by assuming all of the content will be cheap/free. Unless people want to get all of their news from blogs and their imagery from flickr/youtube, the “industry” needs to charge for everything again and not give us the free choice. If you hold the content ransom we will pay eventually.

    • @anon,
      Yes, I agree totally. You either pay for the device and get all the content for free or you do some kind of cell phone pricing where you lock in for 2 years of content delivery and the device is free.

  10. have to say, I think they are high too if they expect people to buy into a concept and a product like that.

    People buy printed magazines,well, because they like printed magazines, if they wanted a web page, they wouldnt buy a magazine.

  11. Very cool stuff. Its a great effort and if people buy it then more mags like this concept SI will be made and I’ll have more work. So glad that I do motion and stills now. Love the ad spots too.

  12. I have a strong feeling about this. I have since I heard the rumor about the Apple Tablet.

    i.e. I subscribed to Wired a few months ago, and while they give you access to their website instantly I didn’t read a damn thing until the magazine reached my mail box.

    I want to sit leisurely with my coffee or martini and sift through articles of interest. As a photogrrapher, or writer or both, how many of you want to sit at a computer to relax? If you answer “I do” may I suggest you get out a little more?

    There is room for something that will feel more like leafing through a magazine but that still offer a pile of magazines for us ADHD generations.

    Not to mention it’s great for original content. I’m really, really hopeful.

  13. What’s the point of spending the effort to create new content delivery gadgets if they’ll deliver the same crappy content? I don’t think people will flock to spend money on yet a new gadget, just to read and see the same fluffy content that they can find on the web for free.

  14. I’m a bit with Gizmodo on this: what they’ve defined is not a magazine, but something a lot like a Web site.

    Here’s the thing, a magazine have traits that don’t really seem apparent in this demo:

    * You get it periodically because you want to deal with the subject periodically (otherwise you’d be on the SI Web site all the time).
    * It’s something that you get because you paid for it and others don’t get because they didn’t pay for it (the whole notion of “share” in the video could either support or invalidate this point depending upon how it was done).
    * You often “clip and save” things from the magazine that you wish to refer to later. Again, these are things you don’t get elsewhere, e.g., the Web site.
    * Magazines support “pass-along” readership, indeed, most actually promote that number to their advertisers. But this is a physical copy thing: with digital you’d need to make the original (subscriber’s issue) unreadable while it was loaned out. Without pass-along readership, you have to sell every copy you’re going to report to advertisers, you don’t get potential new subscribers, etc.
    * Advertisers want position in magazines. If you have separate pages of advertising versus articles, as the demo tries to imply, the reader will more often just flick past the ads. If you build in hard stops that they have to override, the reader will get mad. So, what will happen to all those nice spreads in the demo is that they’ll all have at least one embedded ad in them. And the advertisers will want to have “come see me” gimmicks in those ads (like the Flash ads we see playing on some Web sites these days instead of static ones). And where’s the inside front cover, inside back cover, and back cover of this product? In short, this looks like an editorial-only vision of a tablet product where revenue is mostly circulation-based. Not likely to happen.

    By the way, where’s the marking? When I come back to this, the TOC should distinguish what I’ve read versus what I haven’t. I should be able to mark articles, photos, even text for later return. Along with marking it needs clipping, too.

    Also, where’s the locational data? The tablet is going to know where it is, so my version of SI should have more Eastern PA emphasis, or at least a regional section. And I’m a displaced Californian, so maybe I want to follow that region, as well. And I’m sure advertisers will want to know where I am ;~).

    Doesn’t look like a fully fleshed out demo to me.

    Thom Hogan
    former editor many publications, including Backpacker

  15. this is great! finally something to shut down the whining of photo-j is dead, photography is dead, this is dead, that is dead…its all transitional…even magazines are not dead nor is print, it WILL all exist only the quantities will change as there only so much a company can produce…I see print becoming more like vinyl in the music industry – still cherished, still in demand.

    one thing I would like to see however is every photographers name overlayed small and semi-translucent on the lower right corner of the photo as its only fair to name who shot it, unless you are going to pay advertising rates at complete buy out…

    one example current example that is annoying as hell right now is the New York Times on the iPhone in which you click on the photo/story and up comes the lead photo with the author credits prominent below but no credit to the photographer, in order to see the photographers credit you have to go back to the list of stories and then click on the story again, then the photographers credit comes up under the photo on the lower right of the frame. Why is this? Give it a try all iPhone users…it should be brought up to the Times if it hasn’t already.

    ch

  16. That was a long 3 minutes & ten seconds. Going by the tone of his vocie, the editor of SI doesn’t even sound convinced of this technology.

    I agree with CH above on how print may be akin to vinyl records. Collectible and tactile. I know I prefer to read an actual magazine or book since I can take it anywhere and if it gets stolen…well I’m only out $5 as opposed to (god forbid) $2000 if my laptop or whatever other device grew legs.

  17. Yawn… My eyes were about to pop out from reading all this great debate on a screen. Thank god for my printer—oh, and my NYTimes paper! Did you read David Carr’s article,”The Fall and Rise of Media?” I did, and you should too. Throw on an old vinyl record (perhaps Nate King Cole’s, A Christmas song), load up a highball with bourbon, and give it a read. What’s that? You don’t have the paper pleasure? That’s okay, check it out here then:

    (http://www.nytimes.com/2009/11/30/business/media/30carr.html?_r=1&scp=1&sq=david%20carr%20nov%2030&st=cse)

    The line that stood out to me was this: “Certain stalwart brands will survive and even thrive because of A NEW SCARCITY OF QUALITY CONTENT for niche audiences that demand more than generic information.”

    Don’t get me wrong—I DIG THE NEW-FANGLED TECH—Santa’s fat ass better bring me one for Christmas! BUT, at the end of the day, it’s only that: new-fangled tech. It’s not a magazine.

    I’m encouraged by all the new opportunities that Tablet tech presents for shooters but I don’t think this will all-together and so-suddenly replace the POWER OF PRINT (i.e. traditional publishing) and those “stalwart” brands that are committed to the format and the experience. Will a bunch of magazines go in this direction? I hope so. hehehe—er, hohoho…

  18. John Banken

    Everyone scoffed at the idea of a little tiny white device that would hold all of your music collection….and look what almost everyone owns now. I believe this will be the same wave with digital media aka magazines, books, etc. There is a new generation growing up who will never have listened to a record, tape, 8 track, or even a compact disc.

    It keeps being said that people will miss the feel of a real book in their hands, just as they said people will miss holding an album in their hands and reading the liner notes, but everyone still bought and continues to buy, those trendy portable music players.

    As a part of the younger generation, who has been exposed to all of the aforementioned mediums, I don’t see anything wrong with innovation and technological advances. I honestly doubt that my children or grandchildren will have iPods, because I am sure they will come to pass with new incoming technology, as everything before it has. I guess my generation finds it easier to accept the temporariness of technology and how everything has become disposable.

    I’m not saying any of this is right or wrong, just a statement of what I see from my peers.