Apple’s defense for its controversial subscription policy is this: the consumer wins because subscribing to a magazine will become a painless one-click process.
Except I’ve found that to be a lie.
Go ahead, fire up the iTunes Store and see how long it takes you to locate a few magazine apps.
The organization of the content is just lousy, and the root of the problem is in the category structure of the App Store. Based on the available options, you’d assume that magazines were all located in the “News” section. But that’s not the case. ESPN the Magazine is in “Sports,” People Magazine is in “Entertainment,” Men’s Health is in “Healthcare & Fitness,” GQ is in “Lifestyle” and Retro Gamer Magazine is in “Books.”
See the problem? Unless you know exactly what publications you want to subscribe to, you may never discover all the content that the iOS platform offers.
My dream is still for Apple to develop a digital newsstand tool that publishers can use to distribute their magazines (similar to the iBookstore). But at this point, even simply adding a generic “Magazines” category to the App Store would be a major improvement.
Until one of those things happens, I don’t see how any magazine will be able to flourish on the iPad.