January 5, 2015 Last Updated 8:08 am

2015 begins with publishers hoping for big improvements in digital subscription sales

New Year starts, as always, with CES – but Macworld has been put on ‘hiatus’ and the value of big trade shows is being questioned by tech firms

Welcome to 2015! Here in Chicago it is -6F (-21C), here is hoping it is much more pleasant where you are!

CES2015-iconThe New Year means iTunes Connect is open and new and updated apps are being released into the App Store. It also means that CES is about to begin in Las Vegas. CES used to be an important event (it is still a big one) but many tech companies have long since learned that these early year trade shows may not be the best time to launch new products. Apple, for instance, pulled out of Macworld long ago and realized that if they are going to have a blow out fourth quarter of the year (their first quarter) they need to introduce new products in September.

CES isn’t the only big early year trade show, of course. Mobile World Congress is in early March (in Barcelona, of course).

But 2015 will be a year without Macworld as IDG announced last year that the show would go on ‘hiatus’.

“The show saw a remarkable 30 year run that changed the technology industry, provided an important forum for Apple developers to bring new companies and products to market, delivered world class professional development to Apple product enthusiasts, and fostered the development of one of the most dynamic professional communities in the tech marketplace,” the IDG World Expo wrote.

Macworld was hurt not only be Apple’s decision to pull out, but also by the decline overall of the personal computing business. IDG tried to adapt, of course, but the excitement of the PC business has gone, not to return.

The problem for these shows remains that trade shows often are scheduled for the early part of the year, no matter what industry you are talking about. As the publisher of a transportation construction magazine, January through March was the busy time for trade shows, generally held in Las Vegas, New Orleans or Orlando. There were (and are) trade shows later in the year, but they often feel more like conferences (such as Adobe MAX).

For those who write about digital publishing, there is really no trade show or event that can’t be missed. The year remains filled with breakfasts, lunches, and award events created by the trade publications in lieu of making a profit on their trade magazines. Publishing pros like to network, eat and drink, and so there is no stopping these things, I guess.

2015 promises to be a wild year politically, as several European countries will be holding important elections (the first being in Greece on January 25). In the U.S., where much more time is spent campaigning than governing, the 2016 Presidential campaign will begin in earnest in the spring. The usual suspects are already lining up, oh joy.

In digital publishing, I assumed that 2014 would be an important year for the Apple Newsstand as it seemed unimaginable that Apple’s App Store team would continue to allow the store to be unmaintained. But they did, and the results have been disastrous for many publishers. Soon new publisher’s statements will be released and the big story of the early part of the year may be which magazines have seen their digital subscription gains stall or even reverse.

Few publishers will probably pull their Newsstand apps, but the idea that 10 percent or more of a magazine’s subscriptions might be iPad readers seems far fetched today. Publishers who have just, finally, gotten on the digital publishing bandwagon, will look more to the web and less to digital newsstands unless they start seeing the big tech companies being more committed to their digital newsstands.

The year is not going to start off well. Adobe has already announced that it will no longer offer its Single Edition solution to Creative Cloud members, making it exclusive to Adobe DPS Professional and Enterprise users. That means that small and self-publishers are already looking for alternatives to Adobe.

AppPub-iPad-iPhoneBut TNM is still committed to digital publishing for digital devices. In a month or so, we will be relaunching App Publisher and expanding its publishing schedule to six times a year. If you like the monthly subscription option I would recommend signing up now as our plan is to end that option (too much reader turnover) as soon as the first relaunch issue is ready. App Publisher will also be launched for Android, hopefully as soon as the first relaunch issue.

Paul Blake and I are not planning radical changes to the magazine just yet. Our first priority is making sure we have quality editorial, regular contributors, and a new support website. Having faith in the future of digital publishing means not rushing into things and not panicking when things don’t go as planned (just like print, right?).

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