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Sports Illustrated: Cost-cutting has hindered iPad app


If you're a regular reader of the Sports Illustrated (SI) publication for the iPad, you may have noticed something unusual / different in the latest issue. The SI iPad edition is now only viewable in landscape mode, no longer supporting portrait mode as it did in previous issues. If you hold your iPad in landscape mode and then turn it to portrait mode the message, "This page is intended to be viewed in landscape mode. (There's nothing wrong with your iPad -- just turn it horizontally.)" appears.

Guest editor of the SI iPad edition, Josh Quittner (Time Magazine), comments on this change in his personal blog. Quittner says that he believes the optimal viewing experience for photo-driven magazines, like SI, is in landscape mode. He also adds that by not editing in two formats (landscape and portrait) some innovative new features have been introduced, like "Super Loooooong View" - bringing a "reveal" effect to photos "akin to centerfold, or poster view."

Quittner points out that another advantage of a single format issue is its reduced size. Coming in about 30% smaller than previous issues, SI can be downloaded in under a minute. But Quittner points out that download time isn't the only consideration, here. With other magazine publications reaching and even exceeding 500 megabytes, Quittner asks, "Who wants to store media that big on a 16 gigabyte device?"

Finally, Quittner does admit that economy comes into play, too. He says that by implementing the landscape-only format their work load is reduced by at least a third.

"Why not add more designers?" Quittner responds, "Well, if we were able to build a real business, with subscriptions that offered our iPad versions to readers at a reasonable price, that would be a no brainer. But we can't yet, so the best approach for us is to experiment with the format, marshal our (human) resources and start building products on other platforms that will allow us to scale up as our business grows."

You may remember this video from way back in December of 2009 demonstrating Time Inc.'s vision for a tablet-based version of SI - prior to the announcement of the iPad. Back then, Time Inc. would have users download the SI app from the iTunes Store, but pay Time Inc. directly for further issues. Naturally, Apple didn't like this.

Currently, Apple doesn't allow publishers to offer subscription based content on the iTunes store. But if rumors of the iNewsstand are to be believed, it's going to be pretty interesting to see how all this pans out.

[Hat tip to AppleInsider]

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