Several years ago, digital reading platform issuu gave up on the iTunes App Store after several rejections stemming from its then too-competitive nature with Apple’s planned Newsstand service. Now, it’s back. The company has released its first iOS app that brings a variety of free publications to iPhone and iPad users worldwide, with over 10,000 new ones being added daily in 30 languages.
The magazines, which include titles like NYT Style, V Magazine, Sauce, Everyday Food, Red Bulletin, Sport Magazine, American Craft, Emma, and more, cover a range of categories like family, fashion, design, sports, photography, weddings, technology, style, science, medicine, food, and travel.
In years past, issuu’s plans for iOS were to start off with a free store, but then move to paid distribution, something that apparently put it on Apple’s crosshairs. The landscape has since changed, and issuu’s business model now involves offering publishers in-depth analytics about their publication and their readership, as well as other site integration and customization features.
The company, by way of background, was actually founded back in 2006 in Denmark, and became an early player in helping move print media to mobile and tablets, while also giving new and aspiring publishers who wanted to create their own digital magazines the opportunity to do so. issuu launched in 2007, and subsequently raised $20.3 million from investors, $10 million of which it brought in last July on the premise of being the “YouTube for magazines.”
More recently, issuu brought in an entirely new management team, including CEO Joe Hyrkin, a former Yahoo exec who held senior roles at Yahoo and Flickr; CRO Jeff Merkel, an ex Google mobile executive; and Jeremy Lacroix, previously of AOL (disclosure: TechCrunch parent company). Around this time last year, issuu had 14 million publications live on its platform. Today, it offers 18 million.
The company also reports that it has 80 million magazine readers who spend 1 billion minutes per month with issuu. (The company declines to share revenue figures).
Since the launch of this new iOS app just two weeks ago, it has been downloaded 100,000 times, issuu says. Today, the app is #5 on the Top Free News apps list on iTunes – notably ahead of Flipboard (#6), The WSJ (#7), BuzzFeed (#8) and Yahoo (#10).
Having timed its iOS debut to coincide with the release of the new iPhones and Apple’s iOS 8 mobile operating system, the issuu app takes advantage of Apple’s new “Handoff” feature for iOS which allows readers to pickup reading where they left off as they change devices.
It also offers offline reading, search and discovery tools for finding newspapers, catalogs and magazines, and an improved personalization algorithm that suggests new content based on your previous reading. Additionally, users can read through their own favorite magazines (“stacks” in issuu), or dive into the content by focusing on their interests. The company says its goal is to make content discovery more than functional – it wants it to be fun and addictive, too.