December 13, 2016 Last Updated 8:31 am

Joe Zeff to reopen Joe Zeff Design studio next month, this time in Times Square building

The iTunes Hall of Fame app designer and his team created some of the best tablet apps and mobile digital editions seen in the early days of the iPad, then closed down his studio in the summer of 2014 to join Scrollmotion

The Joe Zeff Design studio will be reopened, Joe Zeff told TNM late last night. Zeff and his studio created some of the first really outstanding publishing apps for the iPad, apps such as Above & Beyond: George Steinmetz and Spies of Mississippi: The Appumentary. The new studio will be located in the heart of New York City, whereas the old studio – immortalized in the app The People and the Steeple (sadly no longer in the App Studio) – was located in Montclair, NJ.

“Joe Zeff Design reopens next month in Times Square, in the same building as Scrollmotion so that we may continue to work together,” Zeff told TNM. “I’m also excited to re-engage with longtime JZD clients — the world’s leading publishers, universities, and sports and entertainment companies.”

Zell closed his studio in the late summer of 2014 to join ScrollMotion as its VP/Executive Creative Director. ScrollMotion. The company concentrates on software and recently launched a new solution called Ingage.

“Ingage is the software platform developed by Scrollmotion that’s used to create and share interactive touchscreen content. It encompasses both Scrollmotion’s current offering, formerly called the ScrollMotion Enterprise Platform, and its new product launching next month,” the company said in late October.

In August of this year ScrollMotion launched its own creative agency, Scrollmotion Blue, and Zeff became President/Chief Creative Officer of that unit. Recently WPP, the giant communications services group, led a $6 million round of financing in Scrollmotion.

Zeff was featured in the final chapter of Talking Digital, where he spoke of the changing nature of digital editions, and the fact that many publishers were missing a great opportunity.

Here is an excerpt of the interview, conducted in 2013, at a time when Apple – unbeknownst to many publishers – had already given up on the Newsstand – and when many publishers were beginning to give up on their interactive digital editions:

“I find that our trajectory changes from quarter to quarter here as the market evolves. When we did Above & Beyond: George Steinmetz it was a different world. At that point we were stretching our legs and trying to identify the best ways to leverage a new platform, a new way to communicate. Since then we’ve learned a lot.

Hopefully there is a timelessness in everything we do. The idea of engaging a user doesn’t really change from one year to the next. Good content is good content. And if you are more focused on telling a story than the leveraging the capabilities of a specific device in a specific time frame, then you’re able to create products that have longevity.

One thing that has changed quite a bit is that there were far fewer consumers of tablet content. But as the number of consumers has increased, their interest in paying for content seems to have decreased. So it’s really stated to shape the business models that surround our apps.

I really blame magazine publishers for contributing to the idea that interactive content on the iPad is free. In other words, I think there was an opportunity for the magazine industry to set some boundaries regarding the cost of interactive content. Some publishers chose to give away their content to help support their print subscriptions, and in doing so it really made it very difficult to start charging for some content when such a vast array of high quality applications were available for free for what you are already paying for.

I think that has really obscured the vision for publishers, it has created a target that isn’t necessary the best target long term for magazine publishers. Instead of building interactive products in such a way that they generate new revenue, there has been much more of a focus on creating interactive applications that support failing product, which is a product in decline, the venerable print magazine.

I understand that rate base has been the way that magazines can quantify their value to advertisers but that is changing fast and to be fixed on that as your metric versus so many opportunities to create so many new products for so many new consumers and capture so much new ad revenue seems to be really short sighted. I think some magazine publishers have been more proactive than others in seizing opportunities to innovate while others, to my astonishment, are still looking in the rearview mirror and trying to figure out how to support the brands that have covered their paychecks for the lat 30 years. That is not the same way these magazine companies are going to generate revenue in the next 30 years, or even the next three years.”

Zeff tells TNM that there will be a new website launched (the old one still says the studio has closed down), and new bobbleheads (which, if you check out the old blog, was always a feature of the company).

  • Harry Segal 1 year ago

    Sounds like more exciting things to come from Joe Zeff, one of the pioneers in great, innovative apps.