PROJECT Magazine now 99c per issue on iPad, possible reasons behind price drop

At $2.99/issue, Richard Branson’s PROJECT was one of the best value-for-money magazines on the iPad App Store, complaints about its interface design and download speeds notwithstanding; the editorial direction covering technology, culture, personalities, media and advertising, all with a distinctly British irreverence and humor, was refreshing and different. Now at $0.99/issue, it’s practically irresistible.

I think they’ve lowered the price as a response to iTunes’ new subscription billing plans. When you can get seven issues of The Daily’s questionable but effort-laden multimedia content for just $0.99/week, paying more for “less” becomes harder. They probably wanted to offer an annual subscription at Wired/PopSci* print prices (between $10 and $15 a year), but that would lock them down to the commitment of a new issue out each month. So far, they’ve delivered three issues in four months, so some kinks or uncertainties must still be working themselves out. iTunes subscriptions work on the basis of timed periods, such as monthly and bi-monthly. I don’t think there’s a way to bill someone for 12 parcels of content delivered irregularly.

The other theory is the more depressing one: namely, sales have been poor and this is a desperate move to convert low demand into business-sustaining high sales volume. Without the benefit of marketing, it seems, because I haven’t found mention of the price drop anywhere else. News Corp’s The Daily got a lot of attention for being a brand new purely digital publication with high production values, but PROJECT was really there first, and actually delivers content that interests someone like me (who The Daily doesn’t).

*Popular Science has a subscription offer in place for their iPad app, but Wired and all the other Conde Nast publications seem to be rejecting Apple’s 30% terms and holding out. It’s their loss. I won’t be buying ephemeral digital issues at four times the cost of a print subscription, even if they are cheaper than what was previously available to us internationally. It’s a matter of principle now.

➟ The UX of Angry Birds (plus: buy Super Quickhook, Hook Worlds!)

Pulse UX Blog:

Why Angry Birds is so successful and popular: a cognitive teardown of the user experience

Why is an interface so engaging that users cannot stop interacting with it? This is a difficult question because it requires cognitive reverse engineering to determine what interaction attributes a successful interface embodies that result in a psychologically engaging user experience. This question pops up when products become massively successful based on their user experience design – think iPhone, iPad, Google Instant Search, Nintendo Wii, Microsoft Kinect.

A detailed examination of the game mechanics and psychological elements that contribute to Angry Birds’ incredible stickiness, fun, and success. I play it now and then, a couple of levels at a time, and have many levels to go. I’m personally more susceptible to reflex-based game addictions, stuff like Canabalt, Skipping Stone (an ancient mobile game which is now being remade for iOS), and Super Quickhook/Hook Worlds. The latter two are amazing games on the iPhone by a small indie studio called Rocketcat Games. If you like infinite running games like Canabalt or retro 8/16-bit graphics, you’re going to love these. They’re hardcore one-more-try games that have you racing against your own ghost and/or the clock, but their finely-balanced fun/reward ratio keeps you going instead of tearing your hair out. 



➟ The iPad, Year One — A beautiful video recap of Apple’s 2010 breakthrough

This was shown during the iPad 2 announcement, and it is one of the best corporate videos I've ever seen. An amazing product story told with emotion and subtle, quality editing. You can really believe this is the most important development in the last 20 years of personal computing.

Wishlisted book: Otaku: Japan’s Database Animals recommended this book to me, and they were right, it's exactly the book I'd like to be reading now. Completionist instincts are especially activated in Japanese consumer culture, the one place I can think of where releasing a $300+ electronic device in multiple colors prompts repeat purchases from a significant number — with limited edition rereleases prompting early-morning lineups. Serendipitously, this lines up with a lot of articles and posts I'm reading lately (therein lies the problem, "high rate, low downtime" information consumption) about hyperconnectedness and how it's ruining our ability to analyze. The last line of the book description below summarizes this idea, and explains the book's title, so I've set it in bold for your convenience.

Book description from Amazon:

In Japan, obsessive adult fans and collectors of manga and anime are known as otaku. When the underground otaku subculture first emerged in the 1970s, participants were looked down on within mainstream Japanese society as strange, antisocial loners. Today otaku have had a huge impact on popular culture not only in Japan but also throughout Asia, Europe, and the United States.

Hiroki Azuma’s Otaku offers a critical, philosophical, and historical inquiry into the characteristics and consequences of this consumer subculture. For Azuma, one of Japan’s leading public intellectuals, otaku culture mirrors the transformations of postwar Japanese society and the nature of human behavior in the postmodern era. He traces otaku’s ascendancy to the distorted conditions created in Japan by the country’s phenomenal postwar modernization, its inability to come to terms with its defeat in the Second World War, and America’s subsequent cultural invasion. More broadly, Azuma argues that the consumption behavior of otaku is representative of the postmodern consumption of culture in general, which sacrifices the search for greater significance to almost animalistic instant gratification. In this context, culture becomes simply a database of plots and characters and its consumers mere “database animals.” 

A vital non-Western intervention in postmodern culture and theory, Otaku is also an appealing and perceptive account of Japanese popular culture.

Otaku: Japan's Database Animals (USD$16.17) [, free shipping worldwide]