NEW YORK — Sports Illustrated is the latest magazine to take app form on Apple's iPad.
Its application landed in the iTunes store Thursday, with high-definition videos, extra photographs and even an eight-minute mini documentary.
The magazine business, fresh from one of the worst advertising droughts in decades, is crowding onto Apple's new gadget for the chance to win new readers and ad dollars. Publishers see the iPad's crisp display and touch-screen controls as a natural fit for the lush visuals they offer in print. And the iTunes store gives them a ready-made platform for charging readers.
Still, it's a largely unproven concept. Will readers really want to pay $4.99 – same as the regular newsstand price – to download each weekly issue when the free Sports Illustrated website is available on the same device? Will advertisers bite?
Wired magazine, owned by Conde Nast, has boosted expectations. Its own $4.99 iPad app has sold more than 90,000 copies since going on sale last month.
Sports Illustrated editor Terry McDonell said the magazine's research with focus groups suggests its app can lure new readers as well. "Most people said they'd pay just for the pictures," McDonell said.
The app is indeed heavy on photos, culled from thousand of shots that a dozen or so Sports Illustrated photographers take every week as well as the magazine's archive. With virtually unlimited space, there's no reason to cut a good photo.
The app's layout is much like the printed product, with a table of contents and pages that readers swipe through.
The medium also provides for some technological leaps that the printed magazine can't do. As readers scroll through the magazine's pages they can pull up a menu to get updated sports stats, e-mail a story, or share it on Facebook and Twitter.