September 10, 2014 Last Updated 2:25 pm

Macworld hit with layoffs; will shutter its print edition, keep website open with smaller staff

Launched in 1984 along with the Macintosh, the magazine has suffered not only from the move to digital publishing, but also Apple’s move away from being a Mac-centric company

The iconic, but doomed Macworld magazine suffered through more layoffs again today and will shutter its print edition. The website will continue on, though with a smaller staff.

Macworld-cover-smThe move is probably inevitable, though still sad. Macworld has been published since the beginning, that is, 1984. The biggest blow to the magazine probably came in 2007 when Apple not only announced the iPhone, and hence a major transformation of the company, but also that Apple would no longer participate in the Macworld trade event. Though run separately, the tie-in was important from an advertising point of view and anything that diminished the Macworld Conference & Expo would naturally have an effect on the magazine.

Today, Apple is just not as in to its own computer products (the Mac mini hasn’t even been updated in two years) and now they are making watches (or at least, they say are).

Jason Snell, the editor of Macworld, though already on his way out, broke the news online.

“I’ve been working continuously in what is now called “tech journalism” for 20 years, 8 months, and 7 day,” Snell wrote. “Until today, that is.”

Just how many staffers have lost their jobs today is hard to tell as getting a hold of IDG communications people has proved difficult.

“Pretty much the whole Macworld staff has been let go. Looks like the end. Sad,” wrote Roman Loyola, who announced his layoff on Twitter (which appears to be the place to announce such things).

Dan Miller tweeted that “Macworld print is going away, but will continue,” as word spread and it looked like the entire brand would disappear.

Macworld’s last BPA audit, June 2013, showed that the magazine had 160,464 paid print subscribers (with just over 40K in digital). Ten years earlier, Macworld’s rate base was set at 400,000. In 1997 the rate base was 625,000. (The magazine has, of course, resigned its BPA audit.)

Tech magazines have a history of burning bright then dying quickly. Macworld certainly had a good run. The Industry Standard is probably the ultimate example of a magazine that grew up fast and died quickly.

But there is always a back story to these magazine deaths. Media reporters like easy answers like “the Internet killed it” or some such nonsense. If the Internet killed Macworld then why didn’t it die much sooner?

The fact is that the market for computer magazines has been decreasing for years, and while the editorial content of Macworld and PCWorld has tried to keep up, consumers simply didn’t see the changes clearly enough. The editors of these titles worked hard to adjust their content, both online and in print, but without new branding, without new product launches, without experimenting with new websites, new tablet magazines, the end was certain.

I speak to both publishers and vendors daily and they are unanimous: there is a future for publishing, but those publishers unwilling to experiment, to help find solutions, are doomed to the drip, drip, drip of staff layoffs and the final shuttering of titles.

Publishing companies shutter print magazines and keep open websites with skeletal staffs because they are not sure they are doing the right thing. They fear that maybe they have given up too soon, but can’t stand the idea of another round of P&Ls that look bad. Publishing executives love layoffs because they think they have made the tough decision.

The tough decision would have been to radically rethink Macworld – its brand, its publishing strategy. Real publishers, brave publishers, change and adapt, strategize and adjust.

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