February 24, 2015 Last Updated 1:43 pm

Fast Company magazine works with Adobe to launch completely new, stand-alone iPhone app

New app combines the latest content from the magazine’s website, with issues of the magazine, with articles reformatted for better reading on a mobile device

The magazine Fast Company today unveiled a new iPhone app, one that combines the articles from the print magazine, with content from the magazine’s website. The new app, which does not replace an existing Newsstand app, is a stand-alone app, found in the Business category.

FC-iPhone-lgWhen the original iPad was released in April of 2010, many readers assumed Fast Company would be among the first to launch a tablet app. But it was not until almost 11 months later that the magazine finally entered the App Store, and with an app that had significant authentication issues. But a year later Joe Zeff Design, which worked with the publisher, Mansueto Ventures, on the app, was able to brag that the app was one of six finalists for App of the Year in the Society of Publication Designers competition. (It didn’t win, but who cares, these contests are a terrible idea anyways.)

“We need to continually iterate on our content, in both form and substance, if we want to remain relevant and useful to our readers,” wrote Robert Safian, Fast Company’s editor today.

“Which is why, when we were approached by Adobe a year ago about collaborating on a new format for magazine apps, we embraced the opportunity. The process has helped us hone our understanding of mobile usage practices and mobile design tools. And this week, we’ve released the first fruit from that learning on the App Store. This new Fast Company app integrates our monthly magazine content with real-time feeds from our web properties—fastcompany.com, fastcodesign.com, fastcocreate.com, and fastcoexist.com—plus adds a new editorial layer: an “our picks” channel, selected by the editors.”

The new app is certainly attractive, and though the “Latest News” section didn’t immediately work for me, in the end it did and the app appears to be in fine working order.

The app is free, like a Newsstand app would be, but will require some sort of payment at after an initial three months where all the content is free to read.

FC-cover-iPhone“Our motivation for this new app is simple: While we’re proud of our existing (and still ongoing) iPad app for the monthly magazine, the readership remains small compared with the volume of users who access our content on the web and via their phones,” Safian wrote. “Why not offer those users a unified app-based experience that lives on both iPad and iPhone? The new app does not sit within Apple’s Newsstand, so the content can be a click or two closer for users. And the app and all its content is being offered free to consumers at launch.”

Fast Company first began including their digital circulation in their Publisher’s Statements in 2012, and in their last report digital subscriptions sold at only 3.5 percent of total readership, only slightly better than what they could report a year earlier. Things seem to have stalled, as it have for many publishers using the Apple Newsstand to drive digital readership. (Single copy digital is up substantially due to almost 27,000 readers coming in from Next Issue Media.)

This certainly justifies the magazine’s approach with the new iPhone app: avoid the Newsstand, and do something for the iPhone that is not a replica edition, something native to smartphones, an app that is easier and more enjoyable to read. I think they have accomplished that with this new app.

This morning Adobe released a press statement concerning the new Fast Company app:

“Fast Company was a perfect partner for us to explore and experiment with to try to capture the audience and engagement that has often eluded magazine apps. We shifted from an issue to an article-based approach, combined print and web content to create a true mobile experience and delivered across tablets and phones. Feedback from beta testing was strongly positive,” said Nick Bogaty, senior director, head of digital publishing at Adobe. “Working with Fast Company has honed our vision for a new version of our digital publishing product we’re excited to introduce in Summer 2015.”

Also, Adobe’s Director of Experience Design, Jeremy Clark, wrote a blog post that explained the origins of the collaboration with Fast Company, and some of the discussions that took place:

“The discussion centered around what defined a “magazine” in this modern age of digital consumption where readers are increasingly engaging with brands on the web, on mobile devices, at all times of day, with increasing frequency and with broadly different expectations. While revenue from digital divisions of many publishers are growing, what has becoming increasingly clear is that the web traffic is often very fleeting. Average visit lengths across the web are measured in seconds instead of minutes, a vast majority of traffic comes from search engines or links from email newsletters, and repeat visitors per month can be scarce. On the other hand, print and digital subscribers are highly engaged and valuable to publishers, but surprisingly don’t tend to consume as much daily content on the web.”

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