Do not say that we do not listen to our market. One of my colleagues was explaining how our system of Shared Access Codes (SAC) enables a publisher to offer a comprehensive service to subscribers who may soon be getting and wanting both a print subscription, web access, and an app for their iPhone and iPad. The Exact Editions service enables publishers to do this… and it can be viewed as a comprehensive distribution platform for the publisher. But the publisher interlocutor on the other end of the line, remarked to my colleague “Ah, so you have a convergent service”.
And this struck us as an important insight. Whereas it is natural for us to view our solution, which offers a variety of manifestations of the same content (iPad, iPhone, web and/or plain old print) to the user as a comprehensive set of distribution options via the same account – for what our ‘Shared Access Code’ does is create an identity bridge between these different environments for the user — this publisher was viewing the matter from the other end of the telescope. What the ‘SAC’ does is produce a convergent solution for consumers bringing them access to the same thing. The SACs provide common access to the same thing: the same magazine, and the same individual account associated with a single subscriber. So rather than seeing our range of options as providing divergent channels of distribution, we now try to think of the complex as providing convergent access to the unique account.
The point of course is that the ideal service for a digital publisher is one which converges both on the consumer (allowing her access to the same magazine distribution from a multiple range of ‘platforms’ and ‘devices’) and on the magazine – bringing consumers and subscribers from the full range of distribution options to the same magazine and the same brand.
It also seems to us very important that digital magazine distribution solutions (whether for the iPad, or for the next big thing) should preserve the identity and the brand of the magazine. One of the strongest aspects of the iPad/iPhone marketplace is the strength and recognition it gives to brands. Even the rather small badges that cover apps have sufficient visual strength to carry a brand: