Magazines need to do some permissionless innovating

Steve Cheney has produced a fascinating essay On the Future of Apple and Google. You need to read it, but the gist of his argument is that the iOS and the Android operating systems are now the only games in town and they are pitched in a deep but asymmetric struggle. Google through Android will be powering most of the clever devices that will now be running our lives (fridges, cars, thermostats), but Apple has a deep axis of control through the highly integrated devices that they manufacture which will end up managing much of our environment. Android is becoming pervasive but Apple is winning at the high end, and even lengthening its lead and building on its dominance.

Although the piece is focussed on the battle between these giants, Google and Apple, it is also clear that nothing can be discounted, a lot will be made possible within and between the ‘tentpoles’ of their operating systems. As Cheney says

All of this innovation is underpinned by software, software that is figuratively eating the world. But to me the most exciting thing in tech today is not whether we’ll all be wearing smart watches a year from now. It’s that innovation will continue accelerating through the golden era of mobile and well beyond, to what none of us can quite see next.

Precisely because Apple and Google are both winning, but each of them moving off in different directions, there is enormous scope for innovation. Cheney coins the term “permissionless innovation”, which means that we don’t need someones permission to introduce an innovation. Just do it. Here are some ways that Exact Editions now drivespermission-less innovation:

  • Make magazine apps free ByPlace
  • Magazines and newspapers can sell subscriptions to institutions (college libraries etc) that want to have access online and through the magazine apps. Yes that works. And a publisher can do this by offering a subscription that provides access through the web, as well as via an app for the publication.
  • Magazine apps can promote a product in a specific geolocation. That is the application can support a ‘call to action’, a logo or an ad that pops up in a specific place
  • Apps can be built for third parties — so that a collection of appropriate magazines and newspapers is available to the travellers on an airline, or the guests of a chain of hotels. At Exact Editions we are now really excited by the potential for magazine apps that serve third parties with a collection of content.