Apple Newsstand: Its broken and needs fixing, fast.


I’ve recently been considering this: that Apple’s Newsstand has definitely hindered digital magazine sales, and mainly discoverability. Might be obvious to some – but how can Apple be getting it so wrong?

Here are some thoughts, agree or disagree?

1. Its a poor search tool, a poor browsing experience, and focuses on generally the very top magazine brands and newspapers in its ‘featured’ spots. I want the experience to be a little more like a real magazine store (see WHSmith or John Menzies in the UK). Categories and sections, easy to find search area, perhaps a ‘more like this’ suggestion feature. I don’t always want to see GQ, The Times, and Vogue when I walk in. What about a weekly or even daily update? Currently Apple Newsstand changes its featured spots once every three or four weeks.

2. Once you eventually find your chosen title (let’s say in this argument, its the brilliant ‘Cyclist’ magazine), it’s taken you several taps to find it, and even then the instant purchase isn’t even possible – I’m still stuck in marketing hell. You have to navigate through a storefront thats different to all the others, and then tap in your Apple ID when you see the issue you wanted five minutes ago.

3. Wouldn’t it work better if I was buying the title as soon as I tapped on it in Newsstand? I don’t want back editions, I want the current issue, the one that’s right there. Tap it, buy it (or subscribe!). The current experience is a bit like to going into WHSmith and picking up a magazine to pay for it and as you get to the cashier, he pulls out all the previous two years’ back editions and a year’s subscription banner and a load of other stuff.

— plus, the FREE price on most magazine apps is quite misleading too. There is often no free content in magazine apps! This is a major flaw in the whole process and annoys many users (see iTunes reviews).

4. Back to the shopping experience: when I’ve tapped and bought or subscribed to that edition, the app opens and I can start reading it. Just like a normal shopping experience. See it, buy it, use it.

5. Another fair point I could make is that I’d like to see apps that are in Newsstand also appear in the App Store – as an icon, as per previously to the arrival of Newsstand. I could then store the app on the home screen wherever I like. Not in a badly organised folder tucked away – with a bad name. (I’ve always thought Newsstand should be called ‘Magazines’, and feature just magazines, but hey ho).

Its no surprise that only 3% of magazine circulation is on digital devices. I hope Apple (and Google and Amazon!!) can really focus on their magazine stores a bit more, and make things a little easier for new and old tablet users alike.

Have a look at something I’m involved with: and please let me know what you think?


About tabletdesigner

Mobile Product Consultant and Creative Director, consulting across design agencies, publishers and brands on digital publishing, apps, UX and interactive design. I also train designers how to use Adobe DPS, and inspire new ideas for getting content working on mobile devices...

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