December – the month the indie publishers crashed the iPad – Hoodgrown, Trvl and Pies


The cost of producing a magazine on the iPad used to be prohibitively high for indie publishers. I say ‘used to be’ because it really isn’t any more. Over the last few months we have seen the arrival of a series of solutions which now mean that anyone with great content (and a few quid) can publish to the Apple gagdet.

December has seen the arrival of two high profile indie mags on the iPad plus the growth of a rather special travel magazine from Holland.

Urban culture mag Hoodgrown launched its first issue a couple of weeks ago and it really is a unqualified success. The mag uses the Golden Alligator platform – which is ideal for smaller publishers who may not have easy access to designers – and has some great features and interviews accompanied by audio and video. It lacks some of the interactive elements of more high profile launches, but IMO that’s a smart move as it makes the mag easy to read. The mag is free and funded by advertising. A video showing the mag in action is below.

Another notable iPad start up is a Dutch company called Trvl which is producing very neat magazinettes that focus on a part of the world. The mags, which are free to download via Trvl on the iPad store, are image focused with a feature or two. The photography is at times breath-taking.

Finally, a bit closer to home, the UK’s leading sports blog Who Ate All the Pies is now available as 48 page digital and print magazine. It was my idea to produce the mag, but Ollie and Mike can take the credit for some superb features and its rather lovely design.

It was produced as an experiment, and three days after launch I can report that it has been a very real success. The mag is available in a printed version via HP’s excellent start up Magcloud. It is also available as an iPad mag through the Magcloud iPad store too. We have also made the mag available as a PDF which sells for £1 – more info on the mag and how to get it is here…

I think offering the magazine in a number of formats is clearly the way forward. I guess that in the future the tablet PC version will become the main distribution source for the mag, though I think PDFs and having a printed version gives the mag reach as well as enabling people to read the title in the format they are most comfortable with.

So is there a business model emerging? Absolutely. I think it is about offering the content for a small fee on iPad or PDF. Unless the title gets a sponsor and then the mag is free on all formats except print. It is a fantastic opportunity for a sponsor – not only are they the only brand in the issue, but the mag’s regular readers will know that if it weren’t for Brand X then they would be paying to read it. Also digital mags offer a really great platform for proper brand integration, something which has got kind of lost in the rush to produce flashy graphics and interactive videos.

Also I think having to wade through pages of ads – Conde Naste style – is archaic and unacceptable. I know CN have to recoup their investment, but in the future I think readers will see endless ads as devaluing their reading experience.

Majoobi and why iPhone web apps might be a good solution for indie publishers and bloggers


For bloggers and small publishers the iPhone app has always been a bit
of an annoyance. There’s a feeling that your blog should have one, but
at the same time there’s an understanding that they are still fairly
expensive and not especially easy to monetise. Even basic app creators
like Appmakr have their limitations and besides doesn’t Apple hate all
those RSS apps?

One solution might be free and easy to use HTML5 web apps like Majoobi
which was unveiled today. Here’s the details.

What is it? – It is a kind of iPhone app lite. It doesn’t create a
proper iPhone app – so there’s no messing with Apple etc – but rather
creates an web app that has the feel of a proper app (news feed, video
and so on) using HTML5 technology. The big advantage is that you it
will work on the iPhone, iPad, Android and several other operating

How you do it – You use a web based interface to select images, feeds
etc, it is all very simple. Once the app is created you are given a
web address where the browser version of the app is, click + and then
save to home screen and you have your own app.

What’s good – It was very simple to use and I created a series of apps
in ten minutes. It was a little buggy in places, especially uploading
images, but I am sure they will fix that. It is perfect for bloggers
who want a quick and easy RSS-driven app and haven’t got the money to
pay a developer.

What’s bad – It is free, but if you get loads of traffic you’ll have
to upgrade and pay a few Euros. Also it doesn’t pull in video content
to the RSS feed which is annoying. It works on the iPad but doesn’t
look that great. Obviously it won’t work properly if you only offer
partial RSS feeds.

The future – The company says it will soon have the ability to add
bespoke pages, which will be really handy for small publishers. Also
they have plans to monetise the service which could be handy.
Publishers can also charge a subscription too.

What do you think?

Here’s two we made earlier – for them to work you need to go to them
on your mobile and click + and then save to home screen.

Pies app –

Popjunkie app –

Overall then Majoobi is well worth a spin. I guess ad agencies like
Glam will be offering their own versions of this type of ‘web app’
very soon and they will have the advantage of having lots of brands
ready to sponsor them. But Majoobi is fun for now, and if they can
iron out the quirks and add those extra features it could be a real
answer to bloggers’ prayers.

Very cool 4D projection, 4G phone tech and amazing digital art in St Petersburg

Very excited to be at a digital arts festival in one of my favourite cities – St Petersburg. The festival, which is housed in five floors in a disused Hypermarket sounds amazing with a huge number of installations from people like and others. In fact 50% of the displays from the UK.

Anyhow here’s how the festival Yota Space – kicked off yesterday with a 4D projection on Mikhailovsky Palace on of the city’s most iconic buildings.

Thanks to the sponsors Yota I am also getting to play with some 4G technology – which delivers speeds data speeds that makes the UK’s 3g networks look positively arthiritic.