W is testing the iOS app market ahead of the release of the iPad version of its magazine, due to launch in the first quarter of next year.
The Conde Nast-owned fashion and lifestyle title released two free apps leading into and out of New York Fashion Week. One, W Front Row [iTunes link], is an iPhone app positioned as a shopping and lifestyle guide for Fashion Week attendees. The other is an iPad app called The Daily W [iTunes link], designed to be a “daily dose” of W magazine.
Neither app, admittedly, is as strong in content nor design as we’d hoped it would be — particularly in light of W‘s outstanding reputation in both areas.
The iPhone app, which contains a Twitter feed, show schedule and list of hand-picked stores in fashion’s four major capitals, fails to offer content we can’t find in existing iPhone apps. For example, Conde Nast’s city guides [iTunes link], or Fashion GPS Radar [iTunes link] lets attendees view not only full schedules, but also manage their RSVPs and quickly reference show venues on a map. The app is also targeting a very small audience — that is, attendees of Fashion Weeks in New York, London, Milan and Paris — who might, at best, use the app for a month and not again until the next set of Fashion Weeks rolls around.
The iPad app is better. The Daily W mixes original content with content from the magazine and wmagazine.com, but with a focus on shopping.
Most of what the app offers is visual: think collages of fashion goods, spreads pulled from the magazine and smartly edited video interviews with celebrities. Unfortunately, what is intrinsically beautiful imagery isn’t well-formatted in the app; spreads and videos can’t be viewed at full screen size (see above right), and most pages can only be rendered in portrait mode.
Text is limited primarily to descriptions of the items featured, with links to buy through an in-app browser. (In many cases, the items featured are not available online and so you end up on the front page of a brand’s website, which is often rather frustrating.)
Interestingly enough, W isn’t earning any affiliate revenue for sales it generates through its app, so readers needn’t worry that this is an advertising play. The entire app, in fact, is underwritten by Calvin Klein, whose logo adorns the bottom of every slide. Click on the logo and you’ll be treated to a sexy 30-second spot for the brand.
The iPad app, W editor-in-chief Stefano Tonchi tells us, provided an opportunity for the magazine to create something that wasn’t just a duplication of the magazine or its website, but a way to extend and tailor the W brand for a new audience of iPad readers.
In developing the app, Tonchi adds, it was important to create something that would bring readers back again and again. “We wanted to create something addictive that pulls people in every day — not just once a month when the new issue comes out,” he said. “The Daily W combines exclusive, high-level celebrity content with the functionality of a shopping app and all the cutting-edge fashion content readers have come to expect from the W brand. And we do this every day, seven days a week.”
The concept is promising and so is the roster of content coming to the app, including the digital premiere of Loic Prigent’s new film about former French Vogue editor Carine Roitfeld, and more intimate celebrity interviews with Lynn Hirschberg. We can only hope that W will continue to build out the functionality and design aspects of both apps to match the quality we know and expect from the W brand, and of the content that is set to debut on the app.