I suspect my initial reaction to all the hype about the iPhone, iPad and related apps was a pretty common one. I treated all the hubbub like it was just the gimmick of the minute, and this, too, would pass. But I must confess I’ve had to change my tune, err… iTunes, that is.
It was natural for us here at CabinetMaker+FDM to see how we could relate this new technology to our magazine and website. We developed an application available in the Apple App Store that puts digital versions of our magazine right in your pocket. I don’t have an iPhone or iPad, but I do use an iPod Touch, and the app works just the same on that platform. If I want to quickly find an article, ad, or any other item in a recent issue of the magazine, it’s right there handy on my iPod.
When I started playing with the app, that was pretty much what I was doing – playing. Then I quickly realized what a handy tool it was especially with the release of our May issue, the Woodworking Product Source, is this format. (User tip: Hot links to product listings are available through the tabs on the In This Issue screen but not on the replica magazine pages.) Now I had access to a full product directory with links to hundreds of products, right there in my pocket.
Next, I started reading the reports about initial users of the app. More than 750 people had downloaded the free app by April, and it only came out in March. But even more exciting to see was the daily usage. People were using the app an average of 60 sessions a day, and usage was growing. That says more than just gimmick. That sounds like a valuable tool.
That all got me thinking some more about the whole concept. I love my paper magazine and thumbing through it at my leisure to learn something new. But when I really want to find something fast or if the paper magazine isn’t handy, what do I do? Let’s face it, even the most rabid fan of the magazine isn’t likely going to be walking around with a rolled up copy in his back pocket. But an iPhone or iPod fits in that pocket just fine. Heck they even trump the desktop or laptop computer for speed and convenience away from the office.
Access everywhere is really what this is all about. It’s truly a revolutionary concept. This is a change in the availability of information not unlike how the first printing presses made information more broadly available centuries ago. Information is now instant and in your pocket. You don’t have to go to a library, a newsstand, or even your mailbox.
But this is just the beginning. This app is already viewable on the iPad as well, but we will be coming out with a fully featured iPad viewer in the next two months that will make use of the larger format better. And who knows what new information delivery systems are on the way?
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