I don't know how something like this hasn't been developed yet for the iPad, and how it wasn't Apple that jumped on the idea, but Adobe's Digital Publishing Suite is currently developing Newsstand, a brand new application for iOS5 that will play the role of digital storefront for magazines and newspapers.
First, let's drop some knowledge. Facts and figures show that iPad sales continue to push forward, with over 2.5 million of the tablets sold over the last fourteen months. That's a lot, to be sure, but what's important to note is that with more people buying tablets, the purposes many have for acquiring them are also expanding. No longer are users just young people who want to play games and use the Internet and social media; in fact, now over half of all tablet owners use them to read newspapers and/or magazines.
However, the folks over at Adobe noticed a problem: the discoverability of magazine and newspaper apps is much lower than that of their counterparts, such as games, videos, plug-ins and other content. Moreover, since these tablets have a limited screen area, these reader apps can quickly get pushed to the back. While a Forrester study shows that tablet owners typically download an average of 17 applications, some feel that if iPad owners start (or, in some cases, continue) to download apps as ravenously as iPhone owners, these reader apps will get lost in the shuffle.
But if digital publishing is supposed to be the future, and trust me, publishing companies are banking on it, driving awareness of these various reader apps is crucial. Promoting an app, marketing digital content to print subscribers and leveraging social media are just a few of the methods that companies currently use to metaphoically get their publications into customers' hands. This is why Adobe's Newsstand can be a powerful tool for publishers.
Newsstand will provide readers with access to their favorite subscriptions from one central location as soon as they become available and, this is key, allow the readers to view the issue from outside of the magazine or newspaper's regular application. The application will offer full support for subscriptions so that publishers can created Newsstand-enabled apps, which will drastically incread the discoverability of their content and, if all goes according to plan, increase subscription sales and advertising revenue.
Here's the best part, or at least the most convenient. Applications that are created with Digital Publishing Suite to be detected by Newsstand will automatically be downloaded to the Newsstand app's shelf. This means no long download times to bother with on the user's part; in fact, it means no downloading at all on the user's part. The latest issues of their magazine or newspaper subscriptions will just be immediately placed on their shelf and ready to go as soon as they become available. These Suite-created Newsstand apps will also display on the shelf with the covers of the latest issue, which gives the whole thing a very inviting look.
According to Adobe, publishers will be able to start building apps for Newsstand shortly after the release of iOS5 and the Newsstand application.