iApp Review – Popular Mechanics Does it Right

I’m a sucker for giving publishing a chance. I don’t know why, they fail more often than not. Just look at Wired (iTunes Link), and Men’s Health (iTunes Link).

Popular Mechanics (iTunes Link), might be the exception for many reasons.

1. They priced the app right. 1.99. It’s a beta, so I hope they see that the price is a huge deal and keep it at something reasonable, and below the dead tree edition.

2. They don’t go rich media crazy like Wired did. There’s plenty of pages of simple text for reading. Maybe a nice transition of a graphic element sliding in slightly after the page transition finishes, but every page isn’t a multimedia orgy.

3. They started slow. Both Men’s Health and Wired, dove right in with high priced, “billed as complete” as far as I know offerings. It’s nice to see Pop. Mech. admit they’re testing the waters.

4. They valued consumer feedback. The app asks you (sadly it doesn’t seem to know that I’ve already done the survey, which is a might annoying) to fill out a survey about your experience with the app. The content, the ads, etc. Neither Wired nor MH, seem to care. In fact I had trouble with the MH app (It ate my $5 issue) and it took me hours to find an email to ask for help, and the email bounced. The support site, is only for subscribers. FAIL on so many levels, the app is deleted from my iPad.

5. don’t waste space. Honestly I’m not sure how big the PM app is, but I don’t think it was as big as Wired. I don’t want my magazines to take up so much space I’m debating what to sync and not sync, video or magazine. etc. Bloat is overrated.

I’m really digging the Pop. Mech. issue so far. As always great content, but also a pleasing experience. I’m not taping, swiping, and pinching every element to see if there’s something hidden like in other magazine apps. I’m very hopeful that they learn the right lessons from this beta, and create a digital magazine worth subscribing too.

For me that would be.

  1. Not $5 an issue. between $2 and $3 i think is the sweet spot. I don’t want to pay as much or more than the dead tree edition costs.
  2. Subscription price that makes sense. Not more than the dead tree, and not (digital) cover price X 12
  3. Leave the multi media orgy for others. Every issue should be just interactive enough to make sure I don’t think they simply uploaded a PDF of the print issue. I don’t need that much interactivity, it takes away from the content.

2 thoughts on “iApp Review – Popular Mechanics Does it Right

  1. Juan Sanchez

    The digital publishing space is still so new that I'm excited to see a wide variety of approaches. I agree that in some cases interactivity can be a hinderance to consumption of content in the same way that hiding features of an application behind interactions can be detrimental. The key is balance.

    I think there are ways to bring interactivity to the content in a way that enhances a "reading" experience. I don't want to have to interact with something to get key content, but if the interactivity adds to what I'm reading, I could dig that. Throw touch in there and things can get even more whacky because you need to let people know they can interact with something otherwise confusion ensues.

    I know from personal experience that the digital publishing space is hot right now. However, like I said, it's new and everyone's looking to find that sweet spot in the wide spectrum between a page-based metaphor and an immersive experience.

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