November 12, 2013 Last Updated 7:31 am

Forbes updates Newsstand app, adds iPhone support

Forbes Media says it will license Falcon software to ALM and host law.com website

There remains two distinct visions of what a magazine should look like on a mobile device: the replica edition, built off a PDF of print, and the news feed version, which takes the content of the print magazine and displays it in a text version for easy reading. (The third way, I suppose, is simply to depend on a responsive website to deliver content to mobile devices.)

Forbes, which earlier this year launched its first iPad edition using the MAZ Digital platform, has just updated its Newsstand app to add in iPhone support. The app now opens on the iPhone with instructions that the reader can use pinch-to-zoom to read the magazine. The preview of the issue, seen here at right, is not very helpful in selling the issue as it contains the cover and then seven straight pages of advertising – in other words, no editorial to preview. As a result, one does not see that it is possible to get text versions of the stories and leaves the reader with the impression that this will be an impossible to read digital magazine.

Forbes-iPhone5-lgThe screenshots that app team decided to use were not very wise, either. All four of the screenshots show the cover, library or content not fitting the screen of the iPhone 5. If the publishers were trying to show this won’t work on a mobile device they really couldn’t have done anything more to reinforce the point.

Forbes was late to the Newsstand and its doubts about the platform are reflected in its own post on its new app released in at the start of this year.

“As tablets, or at least the iPad, took off, we moved cautiously forward,” wrote Lewis DVorkin in January. “We quietly introduced apps for our investment guides and wealth lists. Mostly, we watched and learned as our traditional media brethren spent big. Lacking their own successful digital properties, every magazine executive latched onto the iPad as the savior, never mind all its uncertainties. Soon came the euphoria of hundreds of thousands of downloads for this app or that app. Of course, no one really knew what that meant since Apple pretty much refused to share usage data with publishers. Whatever, the download numbers made for great press releases. Cool-chasing ad agencies in search of bright shiny objects and freebies for clients added to the frenzy.”

The DVorkin talks about the MAZ platform which uses “the same PDFs that we use to print each issue of FORBES magazine. With MAZ’s tools we can quickly layer atop those PDF’s a series of clickable buttons and links.” For DVorkin, this is obviously all new, it would almost be a shame to let him know that the PDF has been around for 20 years now.

The updating of the Newsstand app was not the only activity at Forbes involving publishing technology. Yesterday the publisher announced that it had reached an agreement with ALM to license its Falcon software to the publisher of law.com.

“Over the last three years, Forbes has evolved as both a publisher of content and as developer of new technology. Our contributor platform on Forbes.com allows us to efficiently create and publish high quality content at scale,” Mike Perlis, Forbes Media CEO, said in their announcement.

With the announcement, Forbes will now be hosting the ALM websites, and this service will become a new revenue streams for the publisher. “We anticipate this to be the first of several software licenses expected to deliver significant new revenue streams for the company in 2014 and beyond,” Perlis said.

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