Speaking at the South by Southwest Conference, Rick Levine, Condé Nast’s director of editorial operations, stated that all of the Condé Nast titles, from, Vogue, Arch Digest, to Vanity Fair, will have a tablet version by the end of 2011. “We like this technology so much that by the end of the year every magazine will have a digital edition,” he said. However, he was very skeptical of the control of Steve Jobs and Apple, adding, “we frankly don’t want Apple to have a stranglehold on this business.”
Rick, and Condé Nast, don’t get it. The genie is out of the bottle. Look what happened to the music industry — did Apple create MP3s and MP3 players? No, it was the wild, wild west of virus prone Napsters and crappy Zens. If it wasn’t for Apple entering a new category, it would’ve only gotten worse. Instead, Apple structured and monetized the music industry. Steve Jobs ushered the entertainment biz into a new digital era — and Apple made it really easy for consumers to obtain content.
Magazines and newspapers are dying. No wait, they’re dead, and this has nothing to do with Apple. It is more about consumers having numerous options to obtain content. We have way too many websites, blogs, apps, Facebook pages, Twitteroti, YouTube channels — you name it. We are overloaded. Don’t think you’re that special, Condé Nast. We love your publications. Hell, we miss Gourmet. But that’s exactly the point, does Gourmet really exist anymore? No, and your readers have moved on to numerous, and unlimited, foodie content channels — from Chow, Saveur, to Food52.
Stop rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic. Work with Apple, not against them. Create the digital newsstand. Your customer is their customer.
Apple is winning this tablet game. There is no second place. Put Flash and Xoom in the rear view mirror, and look forward while leaving your ego behind. Every Condé Nast title may end up on a tablet by the end of 2011, but there will be no audience if Condé doesn’t partner with Apple.