The first edition of the Mail & Guardian Apple iPad edition saw the team working through the night to ensure it would be ready to download on the Friday morning.
One glance at the interactive newspaper has made the sleepless night worthwhile.
Chief sub-editor Laura Grant, who designed the layout, said the project has been very exciting.
“The iPad is the future of media,” she said.
World Wide Worx CEO and former technical journalist Arthur Goldstuck agreed, saying all South African newspapers aiming at the iPad-using market would have to launch iPad editions.
“There are almost 150000 iPad users in South Africa — almost double than three or four months ago. There has been a massive uptake and the market is growing much faster than anyone expected,” he said.
Currently the M&G is the only South African newspaper who publishes an iPad edition.
Fairweather says readers shouldn’t assume that reading news on an iPad is similar to reading online content on a laptop or computer.
“Laptops are associated with work” he says. “Generally tablets are personal devices.
Reading on the toilet
“There’s a joke that an iPad is something you take with you to the toilet,” he said.
“It’s a joke but it’s true. Nobody would sit with their laptops on a toilet but an iPad is something you can use anywhere. I read my iPad in bed.”
Reading news on an iPad offers an uninterrupted, visually-stimulating reading experience.
Readers merely tap on a picture on the front page to open the relevant story. The high-resolution pictures accompanying stories are far better quality than a newspaper could print, while extra interactive features such as timelines and videos, add value to the experience.
The M&G also includes extra content, which gets dropped due to space constraints.
Fairweather said that the iPad editions held value not only for local users but also for international readers who want the newspaper.
“More than half our downloads have been from overseas. If you are in Australia and can’t get the M&G, the iPad edition solves that problem.”
The price of an iPad edition is $2.99 from the Apple store.
This is about the cost of the print newspaper. Goldstuck said the cost is too high but Fairweather promises the soon-to-be-launched subscription fee would be cheaper.
“Currently, the 30% revenue paid to the Apple store is pushing up costs,” Fairweather said.
M&G editor-in-chief Nic Dawes praised the new iPad edition.
“I think the iPad is a wonderfully-rich environment in which to read a newspaper and I am excited by the opportunity it presents not only to reach our readers in whichever format they like, but in order to extend our journalistic toolkit too.”