1 Digital magazines will evolve and extend beyond apps and PDFs - For much of 2011 one of the key questions for mainstream publishers has been how to shoehorn their existing titles into app-based magazines for the iPad. Seven were among those leading the trend with the Project magazine that it worked on with Virgin.
There are signs now though that publishers are thinking beyond the iPad. Earlier in 2011 the Financial Times made a bold move in unveiling a HTML5 app that enables users to have access to a magazine-like format on their tablet, but not have to go through the Apple app store to download it. There is likely to be a lot more use of HTML5 in this way in 2012 as publishers seek to create magazine style content that works across many platforms (including Android) rather than just focusing on the iPad.
2 Brands will be focusing more on content than on apps - The last few years have seen the emphasis on brands building apps to engage with users via smartphones. There are still many superb branded apps being launched, and the cost of producing them has fallen dramatically, but many brands appear to be realising that for day to day engagement with customer they can't beat content and that a beautifully crafted website or print publication is the perfect vehicle for attracting and keeping customers.This is reflected in a bouyant customer publishing industry in both the UK and US, the success of existing titles and the number of new agencies that have placed creating branded content at the heart of their business.
3 Old fashioned editorial values are back in vogue - For many years there has been an emphasis on creating SEO- friendly content to attract users. This sometimes means that key words in the title are often more important that the text of the story. In 2011 this has changed because of two reasons. Firstly the Google Panda update, the latest tweak of the search engine's web data rating system, has worked to prioritise websites that have their own content at the expense of those which simply report on other peoples' words. This has lead to many publishers once again focusing on creating bespoke quality content.
Perhaps even more importantly the best websites are judged a lot more on the quality of the content they deliver. Ultimately If you are producing great content then chances are your site will have more followers on Twitter and more ‘Likes' on Facebook and these days social media is becoming as important a source of traffic as search engines.
We are also seeing new website launches with unashamedly old school editorial values - like KernelMag.
4 Print is not dead - Printed paper magazines are still at the heart of the customer publishing industry in the UK and if 2011 is anything to go by that will situation isn't going to change any time soon. There have been many new branded print launches in both this country and the US and print is still seen by brands are a core component on their marketing armoury.
There are signs too that print is making something of a comeback in the mainstream market. US launches of print magazines was up for the first time in five years in 2011 and there was growth in some unexpected quarters. In Europe print has undergone a mini renaissance, perhaps a reaction to digital content, which in some ways is analogous to the way in which the widespread acceptance of MP3s has somewhat bizarrely been the hand-maiden for a vinyl revival.
5 This might be the year of the Kindle - Up until fairly recently most people's experience of reading content on the Amazon Kindle has been undermined by its low resolution, monochrome screen. This has started to change as a growing number of people now consume the content on Kindle apps on coloured screen devices like the iPhone and iPad. The big change however for magazine content producers in 2012 is the arrival in the UK of the Amazon Kindle Fire. It is a 7inch tablet which has much of the functionality of its rivals like the iPad and the Samsung Galaxy Tab. The key difference being that it is optimised for consuming Amazon delivered content and it also going to retail at not far off half the price of the cheapest iPad.
If the Kindle Fire is a huge success it presents a massive opportunity for publishers. Not only is it a superb way of delivering magazines, it is arguably a offers a better way of monetising them than its rivals. Whereas users have come to expect apps to be free on the iPhone and iPad, almost all Kindle optimised content has some sort of price tag.
Put simply if people get used to using the Kindle to view paid for content from mainstream publishers the device will then offer huge possibilities to customer publishing agencies.