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Did Magcloud Just Kill Itself?

Jean Snow just posted on Twitter that magazine-print-on-demand service Magcloud just released an iPad app, for viewing of digitised versions of the magazines people make and sell through that service. At the link, Magcloud explain that the app is free and (currently?) so are all Magcloud magazines obtained through the app. Presumably, once uptake of the app reaches a certain point, they’ll build in in-app purchase of digitised magazines, as well as a way to buy the physical POD editions.

Several million iPads in the wild. A convenient way to read Magcloud offerings on said iPads, with instant free delivery and what I again presume would be a far lower price per unit than is charged for the print versions. Is it me, or did Magcloud just take several steps towards killing themselves?

A few presumptions in there, yes, but…

Published in researchmaterial


  1. It’s like giving away free food for months, then saying “Hey, you have to start paying for that now, even though a bunch of other stores have started giving away food to keep up with us!”

    Yeah, it’s dead.

  2. I sure as hell hope they aren’t on their way out. I finally have something I’d like to use it for.

  3. Phil Sandifer Phil Sandifer

    I largely disagree. It seems to me the iPad is going to kill POD models pretty dead. But on the flip side, that the model of the iPad puts is back into a period where aggregators matter again. (I remember you blogged a few years ago about the death of aggregators, with a few sites like Boing Boing successfully filling that niche). But when aggregators need to be merged to a storefront, the last thing you want to do is be buried in the app store for each issue. You want a coherent application that’s a reader/storefront.

    Seems to me Magcloud has moved swiftly to try to corner that space on the iPad, so that they are the place for self-published magazine content on the device.

  4. Hey Warren. Derek here. We’ve corresponded a few times. I work with HP on MagCloud. I just wanted to add a few data points to this.

    1. The app already has a “Buy in Print” button. Every magazine on the iPad can spur a print-on-demand purchase (and based on my own magazines, that’s already happening, but of course it’s only day one).

    2. Yes, we plan on implementing paid magazine purchases in the iPad app, too. We wanted to launch simple, and let it evolve.

    3. MagCloud is all about empowering people to become publishers. In print, on iPad, wherever. More publishers making more magazines in more ways? How could that be bad (for MagCloud, for everyone)?

    Personally, I love living here in the future.

  5. Kyle Kyle

    I would whole-heatedly say yes. They have pretty much destroyed their own company.

  6. tobot tobot

    Yyes it is all available titles ………for now , and yes it is free ………….for now . c’mon kids your first cigarette was free , your first hit of smack/crack was free and your first drink was free too I’m willing to bet.

  7. Jordan Ellison Jordan Ellison

    I just downloaded the app. There is a helluva lot of free content available…though i’m really not sure about a magazine entitled ‘Mormon Artist’.

  8. Marcello Marcello

    up until now most mainstream magazines charged the same for the ipad and the print version, actually making a nice profit on each digital version sold.

    so maybe it’s not such a bad idea…

  9. Lorraine Lorraine

    @DerekPowazek Free l(a)unches followed by gradual implementation of a pay-model never work. The digital consumer, once exposed to a free service/product, finds it extraordinarily difficult to start paying – even if well-intentioned and for an upgrade or superior product – see the failed Times(UK) paywall experiment. The challenge for producers is to introduce a paying model and a superb product from the very beginning and to work on changing consumer behavior – a Sisyphean challenge.

  10. Fred Davis Fred Davis

    I’d assume the point isn’t to provide a free service that can then have a pay barrier put in front of it, the point is to create an audience and to have the revenue come in through “selling” that audience to producers of products, as well as to advertise for their physical copy service. Think of it more like a blogging-service ala blogspot rather than a traditional retailer.

    It’ll be interesting to see if that works – the big question is how the suppliers of product for the service make money out of the service, which is who HP are deferring their costs onto.

  11. Someone reminded me that HP owns MagCloud. Not to worry. They’re using Apple as a testbed, just as Google did for its later Android stuff. This most likely means a webOS app — for this year’s new tablet — is coming too. Expanding the market and making people aware of MagCloud is good.

  12. tobot tobot

    <<agrees with lorraine.

  13. tobot tobot

    although what if your favourite magazine was ONLY available as a digital download?, i couldn’t do without my fortean times each month for example.
    But i would look to dubious mean of obtaining it first even though i knew it would harm the very thing i love…why ? pure human lazyness and greed.

    and now comes the clincher with the ipad getting closer and closer to being nearly uncrackable (for sensible use anyway) what would i read it on? would i pay, perhaps , or would i find an open source palmtop? (i can see one arising very soon)

  14. bob bob

    People will NOT pay for electronic content what they would for a physical object. This is the problem with finding a viable online business model. You might be able to make a living by combining quality content with a $5.50 cover price selling magazines, but that same quality content and a $.99 cent per issue electronic version won’t pay your bills. And that is if people are wiling to pay at all for the electronic version; at this point online news sites have shown they are not.

  15. james james

    I can’t say that I’m impressed by this as a business decision, but it’s an opt-in system for the magazine creators, so let them do it and see what happens.

  16. Look at today’s new release for the iPad, Flipboard. This is a very interesting mashup of social networking and magazine content, with some very big backers.

    I could see this really taking off, especially with some good editorial direction on some of the ‘canned’ channels.

    But, what Magcloud offers that Flipboard doesn’t is the opportunity to POD. Some of the offerings will be great for your friends who don’t have an iPod, or maybe there are other reasons for wanting a physical copy.

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