iPad Publishing Sees Promising Early Returns – Will it Last?

When Apple’s iPad hit the shelves just over two months ago, many wondered whether it would become as ubiquitous and as popular as the iPhone and iPod touch. One area many thought would benefit by the iPad was publishing, and some early stats could be a sign that the industry is indeed gaining traction. Wired Magazine and The Financial Times have both seen significant returns on their iPad-based applications, and with some help from Adobe, other publishers will soon find it easy to join in on the fun.

Last week, Wired announced that it had sold 24,000 copies of its iPad app within the first day of its release. According to the Epicenter blog, Wired’s one-day sales eclipsed the total sales of the July edition of the Popular Science app, which has sold just 18,000 total apps since launching alongside the iPad back in April. At a $4.99 price tag, Wired’s app has quickly earned publisher Conde Nast nearly $84,000 after Apple’s 30% cut on AppStore purchases.

Similarly, the blog Mobile Entertainment reported today the The Financial Times, a London-based newspaper, has sold 130,000 copies of its iPad in the first two weeks. This figure is already more than one-third of the 350,000 iPhone apps the Times has sold since its launch nearly a year ago in July of 2009. The other surprising fact is that the Financial Times’ iPad app has only been on sale in the U.S. and has yet to launch in the U.K. where the paper is published.

Is this a clear sign that the iPad has changed the way people think about reading on a mobile device? Is the smaller size of the iPhone screen to blame for poorer sales compared to the iPad? Or is it that iPad novelty has yet to wear off? According to Mobile Entertainment, The Financial Times’ Stephen Pinches estimated that 2010 would be the first year the publication makes more from content than from advertising – a startling revelation in the publishing industry.

Publishers that are looking to get in on the action will soon have the process of app creation simplified with new software from Adobe. CNET blog Deep Tech reported today that Adobe plans to make available software that allows publishers to quickly and easily lay out interactive media for the iPad. Working in tandem with the newly released CS5 version of InDesign, publishers can produce interactive multimedia apps using Adobe’s forthcoming software – the same used to create Wired’s popular iPad app.

Clearly the iPad is providing a temporary boost to publishers’ sales, but the question remains, will it last? The iPad is still very new and many of these sales can be attributed to the exploratory app hunting many new owners of the device are prone to. Wired and The Financial Times are also a pair of publications that may be suited to selling better on the iPad than others. Fans of geekery and technology, as well as wealthy Wall Street investors – two demographics likely to read the publications – are more likely to own the iPad both because of its price and its status as an early-adopter geek toy.

Whether other publications can attain similar results on the iPad has yet to be seen, but it seems clear that many will soon be trying thanks to the iPad’s successful sales. In the first two months, Apple sold 2 million iPads, and those are numbers publishers likely can’t resist. Hopefully with Adobe’s software – or other software, for that matter – publishers will have the ability to make apps at the caliber and with the same sales figures as the early successes from Wired and The Financial Times.

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