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Magazine circulation declined slightly in the last six months of 2013, according to figures released  by the Alliance for Audited Media, as big declines in single-copy newsstand sales offset gains in digital editions.

Total average circulation was down nearly 2 percent, according to the report, which covered the six-month period that ended Dec. 31. Paid subscriptions were down just over 1 percent, but single-copy sales declined by more than 11 percent.

Digital editions, a growing segment on which many magazines have made heavy bets, were up nearly 37 percent over the same period in 2012. More than 300 magazines reported a total of nearly 11 million digital edition sales.

Eric John, Vice President, Digital Services at the AAM shares some of his insights from two AAM- conducted research projects—a digital publishing survey and a series of one-on-one interviews with 20 senior executives at media companies in the U.S. and Canada. He shares their findings from this research and sheds some light on the challenges and opportunities media companies are facing in today’s digital landscape.

Mr. John states: “One of the first pain points publishers are experiencing is the fragmentation in devices and operating systems. This is a market dominated by Apple and Google with numerous hardware brands in the mix. And it is a market that will remain fragmented for the foreseeable future as brand loyalties, price and new innovations continue to influence consumers’ buying habits. According to data by ABI Research, Apple’s iPad line of tablets made up 55 percent of 2012’s third quarter shipment while Google’s operating system, led by Samsung, Amazon and Asus, accounted for another 44 percent. In the smartphone market, the race is also dominated by Apple and Google with iPhones accounting for 48 percent of the market and Google’s Android for 47 percent”

“Publishers are struggling to develop rich, immersive apps for Apple and Android devices both big and small. Many hoped the arrival of HTML5 would alleviate their problems by offering feature-rich, Web-based apps that could be optimized for the differing hardware devices.

Using HTML5 technology to create a cost-efficient Web-based app that works on any device instead of the more expensive and time-consuming native apps—built for a specific device or operating system—seems like a no-brainer. Our research shows the issue is far more complicated than it may seem.

Many AAM magazine members are showing a preference for native app technology, despite the extra time and money the technology requires. These members view the rich, vibrant experience offered by native apps as important brand building opportunities. Newspapers are slightly more likely to use Web-based apps, forgoing some creative license for cost savings and broader distribution.”

See more at: http://www.auditedmedia.com/resources/white-papers/povs-industry-interviews/digital-insights-fragmentation-frustration.aspx#sthash.uH0hQKFM.dpuf

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