One of the features that iOS 5.0 brought to the table was their new Newsstand application. Newsstand is to magazines and newspapers what iBooks is to books. It collects your magazine and newspaper subscriptions purchased through the iTunes App Store and puts them into one simple place where all are accessible. It has a nice feature in that most of the periodicals can be set to automatically download when a new addition becomes available. That means that, for example, each day my New York Times is ready and waiting for me as soon as I open my iPad’s cover and pour my cup of coffee. That’s all good, and it is a pretty decent effort by Apple. That noted, I’m sticking with Zinio.
I’m sticking with Zinio for the same reason that I buy books through Amazon’s Kindle e-book store and don’t ever buy books in iBooks. It comes down to one phrase — “platform agnosticism”. In short, I don’t want to be locked into Apple’s ecosystem for my reading material. That might sound strange coming from me. After all, I am heavily invested in Apple’s hardware. I have an iPhone, an iPod touch, an iPad, and a MacBook air. At the present time, with the exception of a base Kindle, I actually don’t own ANY mobile electronics that are from a different manufacturer or run a different operating system. That being the case, it wouldn’t be much of an issue for me to purchase magazines and books that locked me into Apple’s ecosystem right now. But that is right now and I’m not thinking simply in terms of “at the moment”. There may come a time when I want to use a device running a different operating system. Heck, BiP (before iPhone) I would never have thought I would actually be USING (and loving) Apple hardware.
Were I to add devices on a different platform or move entirely at some point Apple’s proprietary, locked down approach simply won’t do for me. After all, my entire collected library of iBooks and Newsstands mags would no longer be accessible. Amazon has taken a different approach from Apple when it comes to e-books. Rather than locking people into one platform or another Amazon has made an effort to be present on every platform. That means you can certainly get books on an Amazon Kindle but you can also use just about every tablet currently available as well. Kindle books, come as close to being universal as you are going to find in a system that employs DRM in some form or another.
The same holds true for newspapers and magazines. While Apple is working to build its ecosystem and lock people into only using Apple’s hardware and OS, Zinio has taken a more universal approach. As they explain,
Zinio is the world’s largest newsstand and bookstore. With its many digital products and services, Zinio creates better ways for people to discover published content, get more of it and do more with it. Now, readers can purchase content once to be read on any screen. Zinio provides the ability to shop for, search inside, read, share and save digital content in 23 local newsstands in any country in the world. Through the ZINIO UNITY™ reading platform, readers can move seamlessly within each publication page between text, interactive graphics, animated illustrations, videos and much more.
In other words, Zinio is working to be present on every possible platform and they have a philosophy, ZINIO UNITY, that speaks to this. They want you to be able to carry the magazines you have purchased through them with you no matter where you are and no matter what device you happen to be using. That helps to “future proof” your purchases.
In short, while someone like me doesn’t need cross-platform functionality right now, that doesn’t mean I won’t in the future. Zinio offers it. Apple doesn’t.
Apple’s Newstand is a nice development in iOS 5.0 but it isn’t nice enough. At the end of the day… I’m sticking with Zinio.