Alex Wilhelm is a San Francisco-based writer. You can find Alex on Twitter, and on Facebook. You can reach Alex via email at [email protected] Alex Wilhelm is a San Francisco-based writer. You can find Alex on Twitter, and on Facebook. You can reach Alex via email at [email protected]
The Wired iPad application has been the recipient of effusive praise from around the world of technology journalism, something that we have been party to. It deserves it.
What few people know is just how well the Wired application is performing financially. The answer? Spectacularly well, having now racked up some 73,000 sales since its launch not even two weeks ago. The Wired app is the embodiment of the iPad dream that flirts in the head of every major publishing house on earth: can the iPad bring in fresh dollars and eyeballs to salvage our cratered balance sheets?
At its $4.99 price tag the application has brought in some $364,270 in sales revenue alone, which does not include extra advertising revenues that Wired is stacking up selling digital ad spots like hot cakes. Wired expects July ad sales to be up 28%, partially on the strength it has found in the iPad.
Revenue, But At What Price?
While that is a rather rosy scenario, a venerable giant of the publishing world using a new medium to prop themselves up, the Wired application does have its detractors.
Past the application’s slick interface and killer execution, there are a good number of people who have purchased the application who are damn confused. At a cost of $4.99, the Wired app is a touch pricey. Most people found the application more than worth the five bucks, but that is hardly a problem.
What is odd, is that many people who have purchased the application did not know that they were only buying a single month’s issue, not the full Wired experience. Take a look at the comments on the applications iTunes page, they are brutal:
I had assumed this was a year’s subscription, after all they are saving all that printing and distribution cost. But no, this is ONE ISSUE ONLY. Seems like a simple straightforward rip off. I wish this was made a little clearer before I purchased. I can get a paper subscription to an entire year for $10 after all.
The concerns of the reviewers? That at $5 a month the application costs as much as the magazine in print, that at $60 a year it is six times as expensive to read than a normal subscription, and that Wired did not make it plain in the application’s description what they were buying. Ouch.
Wired: Hardly Malicious
That said, the chance that Wired has confused people on purpose is far fetched. This smells like an honest mistake, and a fixable one. Wired should update the product description in iTunes and offer annoyed people a free month. Simple, fast, and easy.
Or it could do something even better, charge everyone $5 for the application, and then $1 a month for new issues. Hell, even $2 an issue would sell by the pound. Sign me up for that.
The larger image is this: Wired has demonstrated massive demand for traditional magazines in a well prepared digital format for pay, people are not sitting about demanding free content. That is the music the ears of the publishing world have been waiting to hear.
What Wired must do is capitalize on this gigantic early momentum to build a lasting iPad franchise, both for itself and also for its larger industry; they need help. Go get them Wired, but make it plain exactly what you are selling.
When we last covered the Wired iPad application on May 27th, it had sold a paltry 24,000 copies. Impressive sales momentum, don’t you think?
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