Five reasons why the Vogue Paris iPad app sucks

Jul 15, 2013
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Let me start by saying that I enjoy reading on my iPad. I also like Vogue magazine for their great content and awesome fashion editorials, to my mind better than Vogue Us ones. From this point of view Emmanuelle Alt and her team are doing a great job! Where Vogue Paris is not doing such a great job as their US colleagues, is on their digital version, as their iPad app is a huge disappointment for everyone who’s accustomed to magazine apps. Here’s 5 reasons why Vogue’s Paris iPad app is a nightmare:

Who the hell is Zinio?zinio, digital publisher, app publisher

Until May this year, one had to subscribe to a Zinio account, in order to have access to Vogue’s Paris app, as it was Zinio that powered the digital version in France. It still does in fact, making Vogue Paris and all Condé Nast’s french portfolio an open battle field for subscriptions. Being available in the App Store was quietly announced by Vogue but their website link to digital subscription points to Zinio. Maybe it’s time to change that, as ancient Zinio subscribers will never guess there is a second option, and new readers/subscribers will only get more confused. As Vogue US, Vogue Paris is also part of Condé Nast that has adopted Apple’s in-app subscription feature in 2011, making it hard to understand why it is only 2 years later they did the same in France.

Responsive Design ≠ a PDF in an iFrame

“Hello bullshit” this is what I told myself when I first discovered Vogue FR mobile app. Such a big disappointment! All I had before my eyes was an extremely mediocre pdf file illegible unless zooming all the time. Even moving your iPad, as to have only one page on the entire screen, won’t help much as you still have to zoom in order to keep your eyes from hurting. At a digital age like ours it’s really hard to imagine a magazine as notoriously famous as Vogue not having a at least decent app.

Devoid of Value.

When comparing Vogue US and Vogue FR iPad apps, the difference is striking. Vogue US has really understood something about the iPad ecosystem and the editorial possibilities it offers. Vogue Paris doesn’t seem to get the point. Let me give you a hint: interactivity, rich media, you name it. When you think about it, it’s crazy to have two apps, powered by two different publishers, but none of them good enough. Vogue Paris has to do something about it, a well build and edited app is an experience in itself and it’s totally different from reading print.

“It’s OK if we leave out some pages, right?”

Fashion blogger Garance Doré writes a column for the printed version of Vogue Paris. As a fan of Garance’s, the fact that she begun writing for Vogue made me buy Vogue in the first place. I hadn’t opened a Vogue magazine in my life before; however, Garance’s writings are not available on Vogue’s digital version.

Is this a bad joke? Why? Does Vogue even imagine how bad this is for its sales or its image?

I would have never bought another digital issue unless I hadn’t subscribed for a year in the first place. So I was stuck to it. I can’t imagine Garance Doré not knowing about this. If you read this article, Garance, I beg you, do something! I want to be able to read your column in Vogue on my iPad!

Harkens back to the cold war between Publishers and Apple.

While in the US Condé Nast was making good money and building nice apps on its own, Condé Nast France had to set a deal with Zinio ( San Francisco based company with no offices in France) in order to digitally sell its products. Except Zinio, contrary to the claims of their website, builds lousy apps. Two years later, Condé Nast France only seems interested in taking a segment of the market but not in customer happiness. Three months after joining the App Store there is no visible sign of an investment towards digital version improvement. On the other hand both Condé Nast and Zinio yearly subscription may have the same price, but the monthly issue is 0,40€ cheaper for Condé Nast. The publisher has yet another advantage: release date is claimed to be the same for both digital and print versions, while Zinio’s digital version is out 10 days after the print.

It is hard to imagine that Condé Nast France wants to share the market with fellow publisher Zinio but what is sure is that none of them is thinking at the consumer. In the French digital market you can also count on Adobe who makes no-revolutionary-but-decent iPad apps like M the lifestyle magazine of Le Monde and has its own distribution, namely its own app. Oddly enough, Vogues Paris announcement of hitting the app Store was made at the same moment when this report of taxing “cultural goods” distributors was being examined by the government. On the whole, what is striking is the lack of vision regarding the future of publishing and content consuming from the french industry. France has great tech resources why aren’t famous magazines like Vogue Paris taking advantage of that? Is it a lack of interest from Vogue executives for the french version? It is not as much Condé Nast’s image, as a publisher, which is damaged as Vogue Paris’ one, as the average reader won’t necessarily think the whole process through but quit buying.