Usual Suspects Absent From the iPad Revolution

The iPad launch on April 3rd will be a legendary day for the media world. The 240k reported pre-orders have already proven that, though there is still the chance that the iPad won’t live up to the hype and sell five million units in its first year, it’s highly unlikely.

One reason is that the publishing industry is working hard not to leave the iPad’s launch content offerings to anxious amateurs and developers. The apps will be there at launch, but anyone lucky enough to have already pre-ordered an iPad (Apple is no longer accepting orders for in-store pick up on April 3rd and all new orders deliver on April 12th) will have content from notable brands like Time, Newsweek, and GQ. In the coming months expect to see Wired, Sports Illustrated, Glamour, Viv Magazine and more. These are some of the oldest, most respected brands on the shelves today, looking to step up the experience they bring to their millions of subscribers and give them a reason to splurge and be a part of the iPad frenzy.

John Huey, Time’s editor-in-chief, said it best when asked why the publishing empire was putting the release of their flagship news brand before their monster male mag Sports Illustrated, “it has a huge, influential audience, and we’re anxious to get this new alternative into their hands.”

The key words in Huey’s statement are influential and alternative. Time knows there is an overlap between the quarter-million pre-orders and their subscriber list. It would be bad business if they didn’t show up to the party on April 3rd. They wouldn’t be so influential, and their readers would be prime targets for anyone pushing an alternative.

So what about the African-American market? Has anyone seen or heard of an iPad demo of Ebony or Jet? Or how about Black Enterprise, Essence, Uptown or Vibe? AA brands are the ones who could benefit most from the new revenue streams offered by the iPad. Spending fell by 33.3% in 2009 for national mags in the AA category, and 72.1% for AA network television, according to a recent Nielsen report. Looks like advertisers are finding alternative outlets to reach the AA audience. Even worse, that the influence of the AA audience is being taken for granted or ignored by their oldest representatives.



Domingaux says:

They have capital; moreover continued lack of forward thinking. Being reactive instead of proactive. Unfortunately, in the AA community, particular business, we jump on the bandwagon once an idea has already been “owned” by other entities. There are very sharp and young innovative thinking AA and Latino developers out there, working for yes….non black owned companies. What these companies should do is see how they can recruit these talents, moreover create transitional concepts…i.e. web apps 3.0 that can grow and maximize their output.

Alfred Edmond Jr. says:

Daaaannngggg! Anybody here have some ice? 'Cause my ears are BURNING! LOL

As a major fan of Black Web 2.0, I just love the discussions–and the passion that drives them–of the present, future and fate of black-owned media, both in its traditional forms and on new and yet-to-be introduced delivery platforms. As an executive of one of the companies often discussed on this site, Black Enterprise, I find the discussion to enlightening, thought-provoking, and most importantly, a straight-no-chaser gut check. Sometimes, what is said hurts, but it's so clear that it's done out of love. So, let me say to the author of this and all of those in this discussion: THANK YOU for holding us to a high standard and pushing us to higher ones.

Finally, I just wanted to let you know we expect to introduce the Black Enterprise iPad app soon–VERY soon–as in check the August 2010 40th Anniversary issue of Black Enterprise Magazine for details. Some may feel that introducing an app several months after the debut of the platform it was designed for constitutes foot-dragging. On the other hand, the first one through the door usually gets shot. Many of the first magazine iPad apps have been disappointing, and we've tried to take into consideration market feedback to those efforts to create an app that we hope is worth the wait. Anyway, we anxiously await your assessment once our app is available. I know that whatever we present, we'll be able to count on you to push us to make it better.

Now, about that ice. Is that the coldest you got? I mean, is it white man's ice? LOL (Y'all know I'm just playin'!)

Alfred Edmond Jr.

Julie99 says:

prom gowns that are sure to make a lasting impression at yourformal,pageant,or special occasion.

white minority says:

maybe it can be a new government mandate.. Anything to cater to the AA's … After all those year of oppression, you surely deserve better than this.. I'm sure most assume that the ipads versatility as a “reader” will largely be wasted.

Wm_Tucker says:

CORRECTION: The number of smartphones sold in the U.S. to date is roughly HALF the number I quoted. Just over 100 million smartphones have been sold worldwide. Apple and Blackberry account for nearly 75% of the U.S. market by themselves, with the two companies splitting that market share almost evenly.

Symbian OS-smartphones account for the largest share of phones worldwide, with approximately 48% of the market. If a national media outlet is going to create smartphone apps, shouldn't it create an app for each of the most successful smartphone operating systems?

markusrobinson says:

@alfred Would love to know what you all have cooking over at BE.

Thanks for this post, and all of the comments. Just wanted you to know we're paying attention.

zillz says:

AA is being left out…but when is it not? which publication/company is going to step up and take advantage?

I think the discussion boils down to you can easily be over charged but the point is it doesn't HAVE to cost that much therefore price should not be a barrier to entry for Black Media.

Ken Gibbs says:

@Lynne d Johnson You got to the core of the problem. It’s an issue of reaching out to new customers. These publications need recognize the need to maintain a connection to the younger audience if they plan to survive their current audience.

@Lauren DeLisa Coleman I’d argue that no company has any obligation to reach out to any audience, especially when the internet is concerned. Their product has already created an opportunity the pubs should be rushing to exploit. If they chose not to, it’s their loss.

@Wm_Tucker I’ve seen good ones done for 20k, but don’t think that 75k is outrageous when you’re talking about brands with so much content to consider.

@rmcaldwell thanks!

Marq Sears says:

There are companies paying developers upwards of 150k to develop Apps for them, so 75k is not a blind shot…I personally know someone developing an app for Fortune 1000 company and his development firm won the quote @ 95k +.

As far as AA publications paying that much, I don't know if it is quite as justifiable as a F1K company, only because of bottom lines $$$. The F1K company is also buying into the firms service which include high quality POC or Prototype, a professionally drafted schedule of performance (which is very detailed), travel, accessibility, design quality (which is very important, cuz a lot of apps are poorly designed), etc. It's all in how your sell yourself and if the buyer believes you can deliver. Is it over priced? Maybe…but at the end of the day you can't knock the hustle.

Marq Sears
Chief Executive
Q3030 Networks

Hmmm I'm not sure here Rahsheen. I really think it all depends on how the app is developed, with the right strategy and planning the app should work not only on the iPad but the iPhone as well. Also a cell phone w/ a data plan in wireless access to the internet just like wireless access many of us have in our homes. It's still internet service and access to it regardless of the device used to navigate.

It is about balance but I don't expect any company to have active outreach in regards to biz dev in the AA vertical when they play in the mainstream market. They don't do the outreach because they don't have to. It would be too much like right in a perfect world if they did.

I also think just because they don't reach out to us doesn't mean that we shouldn't reach out to them. In the case of the iPad publications like Essence (Time Inc.) will likely at min. have an opportunity to benefit from what other pubs under that company are doing however we will see if that opp is grasped. In the case of independent pubs I'd like to hope many of our staple pubs at least tried to reach out.

Wm_Tucker says:

Maybe they didn't, and if not, that's great for Tiffani. All I did was cite a reliable *average* number to develop and market a smartphone app. That means some spend a whole lot more while others don't spend much.

But ask Tiffani two questions: 1) how much time did it take for her on average to develop an app; 2) how much revenue has she earned?

Rahsheen says:

I'm conflicted here. Yes, minorities are a huge part of the mobile market. Many AA's have a cell phone with a data plan before they get broadband at their home, but the iPad is not a mobile device. You can't stick it in your purse or on your hip when you leave the house. Even though AA brands aren't attacking the iPad market in full force, I'm doubtful most AA's are getting iPads in the first place.

Unless we're talking about AA brands crossing over to a larger market. Then, this all makes sense to me.

Good post! Many of you make very valid points, I'm just not sure we're even barking up the right tree, here.

While I completely agree with Navarrow (on his comment yesterday about AA brands not having anyone focused on new media in their ranks), I would also like to say that companies like Apple equally don't seem to have teams focused on creating better strategic alliances/outreach with AA and Latino outlets (and have addressed even the overall E-Reader situation and missed opps on both sides in a past piece I did for The Huffington Post). I think it's about balance as we all work together to build out new media, no?

$75k I think is waaaayyyy out of line, for instance Tiffani has developed several applications that have both a web and mobile component to them and I can assure you they did not cost $75k to produce.

rmcaldwell says:

Ken, you brought the party! Love the piece, glad to have you as a contributor. And I love the discussion you've inspired.

mikeydigital says:


Can you please show all of us where you're getting the $75,000 number from? What industry and what companies would pay that much money to develop an app for the iPhone when you have 12 and 13 year old kids (check out CNBC's App Revolution documentary) developing math apps to teach their classmates math?

In terms of the companies we're referring to in the post (AA publications), why would they need to spend that much capital just to have a mobile application developed? For a large scale web app or downloadable (.exe) app, then I can possibly see where you're getting that number from, but not for a mobile app.

Here is the point I'm making:

No (and I do mean NO) AA publication needs to pay an individual or a mobile development house $75,000 to develop an app for the iPhone or the iPad. If they do, the person that makes that decision needs to be fired because that is crazy. Especially when you have young people in their teens and 20's+ developing mobile apps and competing in hack-a-thons and winning based on the app they developed.

For example, last month I attended the Day of Mobile event for mobile phone developers in Chicago, and during the hack-o-thon there were to young guys (of Indian decent who just so happen to be brothers), with NO JAVA experience what so ever, where able to teach themselves how to program in Java enough, that in less than a week they were able to build an app for the Android platform and compete in a hack-o-thon and win a prize.

So please tell me again why someone (let alone AA publications) would need to pay $75,000 for mobile app development, when you have young people like me at computer science schools throughout the US developing mobile apps as freelancers to help pay their tuition and perhaps even start a business?

Michael Lang
Founder of Noire Digerati & Digerati Labs

markusrobinson says:

$75k for a smart phone app? Maybe if you get Steve Jobs or Larry Page to code it for you. I'm sure with the a semi-comprehensive set of logical designs, you could outsource a job like that for a fraction of the cost. Or if you're like me, you can scour the net for tutorials and do it yourself (Stanford has some really nice IPhone app development videos on ITunes and the Android documentation is pretty cool too).

Wm_Tucker says:

Don't you think these publishers want to expand their bottom line? Of course they do, Lynne. But they also have to balance their desires against their individual financial situations. I can tell you from first-hand experience most business owners are reluctant to invest in innovation for the sake of innovation. They want to know, specifically, when the payoff is supposed to arrive.

And while I'm deeply skeptical of your views on Af-Ams and wireless devices, that's actually another discussion. I want to make it clear that I'm not saying Af-Ams shouldn't invest in Web 2.o technologies. I'm only explaining it isn't the fait accompli many here are making it to be. I'm a strong proponent of getting the basics right. Therefore, a publisher might want to re-think about the value his product or service represents to consumers ahead of new ways to package the same stuff.

Interesting points Wm, but I'm still thinking about how these companies can be innovative and increase their marketshare. I still feel like we're talking about them accessing the same consumers they've always accessed and not looking at the real statistics for the growing marketplace among those aged 18 – 34, or even 18 – 44.

Blacks still lag in traditional Internet access, but they are leapfrogging whites in wireless internet access. It's because of devices that connect them to the Internet, and not just smartphones, but the iTouch, gaming systems, etc.

I'm not saying you're wrong, but I'm asking these companies to challenge themselves and develop new consumers. Half of these companies haven't even done any research into their markets in the last five years.

The offline ideas you suggested, though excellent, I'm just not seeing how it will increase readership. I don't think media companies can any longer worry about why someone is not reading their print publication, they have to worry about how to get them to even care about their brands overall. Brands that are surviving nowadays have some sort of 360 model. I again think it's about thinking about innovation, you've presented some innovation models, but are they even thinking of those?

Wm_Tucker says:

With all due respect, Mike, the average cost to develop a smartphone application runs about $75,000. That doesn't include the cost to maintain the app after the fact, the cost of developing and maintaining the web site the app is to support, or the cost of developing and maintaining content for the venture.

graphixgeek says:

One thing I haven't heard in this discussion is the ages and/or knowledge of the digital world of the people who hold the pursestrings and/or power to make this happen. In many cases–in both government and corporate business–the demographic who is at the top of the organization(s) doesn't understand the new technologies they are being asked to invest in and, so, are reluctant to make any forward steps into a new direction.

Let's face it, nobody LIKES to look ignorant of new trends..so many people choose to stick their heads in the sand and ignore them…until they can't anymore. I'm in Washington DC and this place, until recently, had one of the single largest demands for printing of many cities. The government's so-called paperless initiative is a joke. Why? Because too many senators on the hill are too afraid of their computers…most of them barely know how to access their e-mail, let alone open up a PDF attachment. They depend on their tech-savvy staffers for that. So…they print…and print…and print.

My point being that a big chunk of the exclusion of our voices in the ever-developing technoscape, at least in the corporate sense, is that a lot of CEOs don't have the vision…and in some cases, the will…to allocate resources to capitalize in the evolving new media marketplace. And, until they are comfortable, they never will.

One other hindrance to this inclusion is education…but I will refrain from going there at this time…

navarrowwright says:

Capitol???? Did you read my post here on blackweb about what it takes to build an iPhone app? http://www.blackweb20.com/2009/11/24/creating-a… . The only cost is $99 to get your app on to the AppStore. If things are really tight go a local college and hire some comp sci interns to learn how to do it and build the app. Apple was hungry for content from publishers for this launch. Opportunity missed!

Agree. Also, a brand like Ebony has the longest way to go in terms of taking advantage of this, because they haven't even converted their greatest asset to digital – their catalog of articles and images.

This goes to Navarrow's point earlier about being late, because had they gone aggressively to digital in, say, 2001, they'd be ready, and the cost to entry would be a lot lower.

mikeydigital says:

Everyone has made great points.. I just wanted to touch on a point @Wm_Tucker made, which Angela touched on as well, which was “It takes capital to develop & market applications for mobile devices”

Why I may agree in part with the marketing aspect, I totally disagree with the argument that you need a lot of capital to develop applications for mobile devices because that is not true at all. As a developer on the Android platform, I know that not to be true. All these AA publications need is to hire a freelance developer for a few thousand dollars or less (if they don't have anyone in house) to develop the iPhone app for them and then adjust the resolution for the same app for the iPad.

If they don't want to hire an individual (which would probaly be the cheaper route) they can hire a mobile development firm such as MEDL Mobile, which are popping up everywhere.

Michael Lang
Founder of Noire Digerati & Digerati Labs

@Wm_Tucker Are you thoroughly convinced that the bulk of the Af-Am audience is offline? I continue to be exposed to numbers that reveal otherwise. Staying trapped in an old paradigm, staying in tune with old formats and old audiences doesn't insure growth. Companies innovate and move and change with the times. As Angela addressed in her Urban League example.

When you define your business, you define your audience first. There's a reason the print formats of these publications are suffering, it's because they haven't addressed the changing population and how it consumes media.

I understand the capital concerns, but there wouldn't be any if companies weren't slow to move. It's the main reason that all these other general market companies are being agile in this instance, because relying on old business models isn't fully paying off so the best business model right now is to try the business models that are projected to win.

I too am more likely to get my info from diverse sources, but that doesn't mean I think AA media outlets are or should be irrelevant. For me, their lack of foresight and innovation in new media is reflective of the same lack of innovation in their core traditional media platforms.

The way I see it, like most corporate entities, AA media is still playing the wait-and-see game, maybe even more that anyone else. We all know how hard it is to get middle management corporate types to take risks, and AA media can be even worse because they might feel they're always under the corporate owners' microscope. Many AA media don't take risks because they're scared to lose your job. Sad but true.

The demand is there, but maybe we don't put enough pressure on them or maybe they've lost focus and don't care to grow.

Maybe it's because they don't have rich new media offerings that we're not supporting. If we're on the web and mobile and they're not there — or not using it actively to engage us, because no content/media is passive anymore — then they're not thinking about winning this game.

The new golden rule: Go to where your consumer is!

thebrothatech: I think what you're saying is that you can create your own content well by pulling from various sources. You serve as your own aggregator because you know what you like and what you want to consume, but if these media companies don't make their content available to you the consumer in all of the ways that you consume media offerings, they're not going to garner your attention.

Well hopefully some of these companies visit this site to learn there's a want and need, and it's an evolution of business and their business models.

And if any of them are visiting and they don't believe it's important for them to play in these waters, the numbers don't lie. Check out this recent presentation I did: “Listening to Multicultural Consumers” http://www.slideshare.net/lynneluvah/listening-

They have the capital they just don't want to spend it on innovation because they think Black people aren't on these platforms and/or they can't justify it. Additionally how much more does it really take to execute an iPad app, the application for publications can simply be modified off the InDesign files, of course there is other programming however there is a basis for development here unlike it was w/ the iPhone.

I agree with you and Narrow, it is sad but at this point it seems like there is a level of anxiety among the leadership ranks of these organizations about moving on to other platforms. I've heard many still think Black people don't consume content on any other device.

“I'm still amazed by the lack of urban brands playing in the mobile sphere, considering AA and Hispanic are the fastest growing users of mobile devices and mobile content. I'm not even seeing iPhone apps in the marketplace from these players.”

You're def not lying here. In fact why on earth would the National Urban League be 1st to market w/ a mobile app beating black media companies.

Ken Gibbs Jr says:

If you can “scour the net and can get the info that would most likely be found in these magazines”, then they haven't given you a reason to read them in the first place. Providing value to the reader is first and foremost.

But we're definitely proving the demand, much more so than any other demo according to recent studies.

navarrowwright says:

Then you would fail. There is no growth opportunity for these magazines offline. They are not going to expand audience there at all. That ” bulk” audience is dwindling and new people are not replacing them. They are facing the same issues as the major publishers. There is a reason why the publishers are rushing to the Ipad. They need a new revenue model. Why must we always be late to the party when the opportunities are right here is front of us. We heed to change our thinking ASAP.

thebrothatech says:

*puts devil's advocate hat on*

My question would be how many of us (REALLY) read any of the the above AA media sources? Is it enough of us buying up the print versions to prompt these companies to delve into the new media market?

My wife reads Black Enterprise, but I am a techy, so like most of us hip to the interwebz, I scour the net and can get the info that would most likely be found in these magazines. Which means I would naturally forgo reading and by cause and effect, forgo financially supporting print media. Could that play into the lack of AA new media?

I guess my question is are we providing the demand for AA companies to adopt/supply new media outlets?

Wm_Tucker says:

It takes capital to develop & market applications for mobile devices; capital these publishers either don't have or aren't willing to spend. I know if I were Ebony/JET's publisher, I might be more inclined to take my already-limited funds and invest them in developing offline, 'old tech' projects – where the bulk of my audience is.

I totally agree with Navarrow on this one. These companies need leaders focused on innovation and stop worrying about spend. They will make up for the spend if they innovate. I'm still amazed by the lack of urban brands playing in the mobile sphere, considering AA and Hispanic are the fastest growing users of mobile devices and mobile content. I'm not even seeing iPhone apps in the marketplace from these players.

But back to the iPad in innovation in AA media. I'd bet that a company like Interactive One might be one of the first players in the space. At least we can hope. And BlackVoices or Essence shouldn't have any concerns, when other brands from their home base are already swimming in this pool.

navarrowwright says:

It's a real problem. The AA brands do not have anyone focused on new media in their ranks. A platform like the Ipad would be a great way for brands like like Ebony, JET and even black Enterprise to monetize the rich history of AA content they have avail to them. They have to start thinking ahead of the curve or sadly they will not survive.

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