Bloomberg Businesweek Underwhelms With iPad App (Demo)

Bloomberg Businessweek now has an iPad version of the magazine available as an iTunes subscription for $2.99 a month. You get the same articles as in print, but in a decent, but dutiful iPad app. Bloomberg’s head of mobile Oke Okaro gave me a demo of the app (see video).

As far as magazine apps go, Businesweek’s app is fine. You get the entire issue, save articles to your personal archive, read in portrait or landscape mode, share articles via Twitter, Facebook, or email, and search through current and back issues. The best part of the app is that it pulls in market data and headlines from Bloomberg whenever you click on a bold-faced company name.

It is a perfectly serviceable magazine app. But it is underwhelming. There are no extra photos beyond what’s in the magazine, or even much in the area of additional multimedia other than a video intro every issue by one of the editors about how cover they chose the cover, and a couple audio interviews to accompany columns by Charlie Rose and Tom Keene.

Ever since Bloomberg bought it at a fire-sale price, Businessweek has made a remarkable comeback, especially online. At least in tech news coverage, I find myself reading it more than any of the other major business magazines. Sometimes its best articles coem from the print magazine, and sometimes they are just on the Web. I don’t really know, and I don’t really care.

But with the iPad app, I am not getting all of that. It is nothing more than a digital reproduction of the print magazine. The news changes only once a week. In a world where news changes every minute, that lag time is one legacy you don’t want to bring over from print. And Businessweek doesn’t have to either. It’s website changes every day, and there is no reason those articles shouldn’t show up in the iPad app. Even the search function in the app only works for iPad issues in your archives. It doesn’t return results from the website.

By making its iPad app less informative than its website, Bloomberg Businessweek is signaling to readers that if they want to stay up to date they will be better off simply going to the website, which is free. So Bloomberg Businessweek thinks readers will want to pay $2.99 a month for less information that is presented in a prettier format. What readers end up paying for, essentially, is the tablet experience and bigger fonts.

Like all iPad magazines today, this is more of an advertising play than anything else. Advertisers want more iPad inventory and publishers are ginning up these apps to provide it to them. You won’t find any Apple iAds in the Businessweek app. The ads are powered by Medialets, just like the ads in The Daily.