The October 2011 launch of Apple’s Newsstand has given the whole digital edition arena a massive boost. Yet the Apple etail outlet it is still a very new route to market with some of the key trends and ratios only beginning to emerge.
The type of digital edition for sale ranges from page-turning facsimiles to bottom-up digital builds. The number of titles on Newsstand stands at just under 1,000 magazines and newspapers in comparison to only 127 for the Kindle.
The Apple Newsstand experience
Some of the publisher learnings to date:
- The international dimension. The major pub-lishers are reporting that typically only 25-35% of total download activity is coming from the UK. The USA is obviously a major market, but there are some surprising pockets of overseas interest which vary markedly from title to title.
- The download volumes. These range massively from title to title, but with some specialist titles (presumably those with a limited presence through the traditional print supply chain) producing some surprisingly high download figures.
- The consumer offer. The most common practice to date has been to allow consumers to download a ―shell‖ app for free, then to offer a first, full issue free of charge before attempting the conversion to a paid sale.
- Conversion rates. Publishers report that the per-centage of initial free downloaders who convert into paying customers is ranging between 0.5% to 9.5% with the centre of gravity falling in the 2-3% range.
- Subs versus single copies. Again, this varies markedly, but looks to be averaging at around 70:30 single issue sales versus ongoing subscriptions. The standard subscription terms being offered are 3 months / 6 months / 12 months.
- Device. Where publishers have been able to gather this information (it is very patchy), it looks like the current split is roughly 50:50 between iPad and iPhone for the initial app download.
- Profile of purchasers. This remains the big un-known currently, but some publishers who have tried to match Apple Newsstand users against their own internal database of contacts are reporting that the match rates are very low – under 10%.