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Popular Science reveals low iPad subscription numbers

updated 01:25 pm EDT, Wed March 30, 2011

Publisher still 'excited' with early figures

The iPad version of Popular Science has accumulated over 10,000 subscriptions as of Sunday, according to publisher Bonnier Technology Group. The company claims to be "very excited" about the milestone, which was reached only six weeks after Apple switched to a new in-app subscription model. Very few publishers have released details on their iPad performance.

The number of iPad subscriptions for Popular Science is still well below print numbers, which sit at 1.2 million. Bonnier has also sold approximately 2,500 individual copies of the March iPad issue. VP-group publisher Gregg Hano comments that the magazine has been averaging between 10,000 and 12,000 total iPad sales per month, a barrier it's finally "inching up over" as of March. In the second half of 2010 Popular Science managed 1.3 million subscriptions overall.

Hano admits that because of Apple policies, Bonnier is mostly in the dark about iPad subscriber details. "We don't have any information on where the subscribers are coming from or whether or not they are or are not print subscribers," he says. "Nor do we at this time know the number of people who have opted in to share their data with us."

Publishers have proven reluctant to adopt in-app subscriptions. Although Apple allows firms to claim all of the revenue from app subscriptions processed outside of a title, it also requires equivalent in-app options, from which Apple takes a 30 percent revenue cut. In-app prices must also be equal to or smaller than those offered through web portals.


By Electronista Staff
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  1. mr100percent

    Forum Regular

    Joined: Dec 1999


    No surprise

    That's not THAT big of a surprise. What percent of iPad users read a specific magazine? Can't be that high.

    Now if Apple had promoted some magazine reading app and had it pre-installed like iBooks or the App Store or iTunes store, you'd see a much higher percentage of users reading subscriptions on the iPad.

  1. prl99

    Mac Enthusiast

    Joined: Mar 2009


    iMag app

    Interesting idea, mr100percent, but that would mean Apple would control the look&feel of magazines, something they could definitely charge more than 30% for. Books are different because for the most part they are only text with a few illustrations. Magazines are mostly advertising with little actual content (my opinion). Maybe that's why people don't like the way current magazines are being distributed; it's hard to separate the content from the ads. Popular Science can be a good read at times but they are required to include ads just to publish it at a price people can afford. Take out the ads and it goes nowhere. This is not Apple's problem to solve, it's the magazine's and I don't see them being able to change their ways. Their current infrastructure (buildings, writers, editors, photographers, investors (ugh!), political payoffs (sorry)) cost too much money and all of this is really not required when changing to an electronic distribution method handled by Apple.

  1. Paul Huang

    Mac Enthusiast

    Joined: Sep 1999


    Free Macworld Magazine with each Mac

    How did Macworld become the best-selling magazine for Mac users? Each Mac came (past tense) with a free gift. One of the options was a six-month subscription of Macworld.

    How about wiring that into each iPad purchase? Try this 25+ year-old idea again.

  1. ggirton

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Nov 1999


    Free Magazine idea

    Including a free magazine as an inducement to buy has a couple of downsides, though. 1 -- it implies you need a magazine to help you understand it (which used to be true for computers). 2 -- it implies that an inducement is required in order to make the purchase more palatable. In fact, no such inducement is required, as iPads are flying off the shelves before they even HIT the shelves. (If you can somehow imagine that image.)

    I wouldn't expect the free magazine idea in today's market.

  1. Paul Huang

    Mac Enthusiast

    Joined: Sep 1999


    an embedded manual

    An embedded manual implies that the user already knows the basics, or how else would he or she be able to 'flip the manual pages' in order to 'look for instructions' on how to 'turn it on'?

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