Struggling Time Inc seeks redemption with tablet concept

December 3, 2009

Struggling Time Inc seeks redemption with tablet concept Time Inc has been plagued by declining subscription revenue and layoffs, so it’s taking a new tact with its magazine content by testing a tablet-friendly version of Sports Illustrated. While the concept is promising, it won’t solve Time’s immediate problems.

Time Inc demonstrated the concept using a digitized version of Sports Illustrated. The tablet concept allows you to navigate easily or page through the magazine.

In addition to being able to flip through the pages, you can jump from page to page much the same way that iPhone users can switch tabs. Or users can bring up a filmstrip to jump to other pages.

Not only can you navigate the tablet version of Sports Illustrated in three different ways, you can also change the order of the pages. That allows users to move their favorite content to the front so as to avoid flipping through other sections.

In addition to the standard magazine concept, the tablet version also has the capability to include video content. SI aptly demonstrates this feature with a clip from one of its Swimsuit Edition photo shoots in its concept video.

This tablet concept isn’t just cool, it’s also an important glimpse at where the Web is going. Touchscreen phones and tablets are on the rise and desktop and netbook computers are also starting to get touchscreens, but these input methods require different thinking about navigation.

While gestures and multitouch hold a lot of promise for a more usable Web, they require rethinking how people interface with content. Buttons will need to grow to a more touch-friendly size and elements like dropdown menus and right-clicks will need to be rethought.

Meanwhile Time Inc has much more pressing concerns as it struggles to maintain the circulation of its various magazines. This concept video might get Time some street cred, but we’ll have to wait and see if the holiday rush on e-readers translates to digital magazine subscriptions in 2010.

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