Today I read something that crystallized my thinking. David Hepworth just posted that he was having second thoughts about magazine apps. This one paragraph sums up most of my doubts about apps:
Problem is things like this are insanely expensive to produce, aimed at a user base which is a fraction of the magazine's universe and by the time it's proven (or not) as a medium the publishers will be thousands of pounds in the hole. The only people guaranteed to make money are the developers. The only people to make money out of the Gold Rush were the people who sold the shovels. It's an old joke but it still holds good.
While we're on the topic of cost, I just got a renewal offer from Wired. They're offering a 2 year subscription for $20, so I sent them an email and asked for the digital version for that price. (no answer yet) But seriously, the cheap paper sub is undercutting the app market. Why pay an extra $70 over the 2 years for the same content?
BTW, that's not the only way Wired is undercutting their app. I've heard a couple complaints on Twitter that most of the stories in the Wired app show up on the Wired website a few weeks later. Um, what?
And then there's the fact that there's too much free content available. I've let most of my magazine subscriptions lapse because I don't have the time to read them anymore. Heck, I don't have enough time to read my RSS feeds.
I bet we'll look back in a couple years and wonder what the heck were they thinking.