Adobe's digital viewer to arrive this summer

If reading a print magazine or newspaper doesn't hold enough excitement for you anymore, there's always the digital edition with its vibrant audio, video, and interactive content. At least that's what Adobe hopes to accomplish with its digital viewer technology, unveiled this week.

This new publishing software was developed in conjunction with Wired magazine, which used the technology to debut a digital edition for Apple's iPad. Wired's June issue iPad app is available via the App Store for $5.

"Adobe's work with Wired has resulted in a digital magazine format that creates an immersive experience, allowing a publication's unique content, look and feel, and advertising to stand out in the digital realm," said David Burkett, Adobe's vice president and general manager of Creative Solutions. "We aim to make our digital viewer software available to all publishers soon and plan to deliver versions that work across multiple hardware platforms."

The viewer relies on the newly released InDesign CS5 and other Adobe publishing technologies. The Wired Reader gives users access to video content, slideshows, 360-degree images, and the ability to rotate content in vertical and horizontal modes. Wired's iPad Reader lets viewers peruse magazine content via touch gestures, including a zoomed-out browse mode, to see the contents of the issue at a glance. The object is to give readers the design fidelity of a print magazine and the dynamic interactivity of digital media, Adobe says.

The technology also seeks to solve an ongoing problem that publishers have encountered with digital versions of print media over time, according to Lynly Schambers-Lenox, a senior product marketing manager at Adobe. "Publishers have tried to go online to create experiences through the browser, but what they've found is that they just can't seem to translate the experience of the print magazine. The browser just has limitations. So we feel that the Wired Reader app is similar to that print experience, where you're looking for rich typography and rich imagery. Another benefit is that you can extend the editorial with rich media such as sound and video."

Beyond the general overview, few details are available about the viewer and its underlying technology, or about the Adobe publishing platform that will serve as its base. "At a high level, (the viewer) is the user interface that controls the Wired magazine, that enables some of that interactivity, while the digital publishing platform is a comprehensive platform that will enable the correct solutions for books, magazines, newspapers, and corporate publishers," said Schambers-Lenox.

The company is reserving technical comment and detailed descriptions until mid- to late summer, when it plans to make the technology used to build the Wired Reader available from Adobe Labs. "We’re in the process of building out this platform—Creative Suite is the core foundation of it. Ultimately it’s going to be technologies and services that really allow people to create these visually immersive experiences online and offline," Schambers-Lenox said. Because it integrates tightly with Adobe CS5, publishers can use existing workflows and designer skills to transform InDesign CS5 layouts into applications like Wired Reader.

Added value

What the viewer technology does for editorial content also applies to advertising. With the Wired project, advertisers used the program's interactive features to deliver more innovative ad campaigns. The advertisements encourage readers to interact with the products and the content, while maintaining the magazine experience. According to Adobe, this new digital magazine medium gives publishers the opportunity to expand advertising, reach readers in new ways, increase circulation, and deliver incremental digital revenue.

"Our partnership with Adobe allowed us to re-imagine and rebuild a print issue into an amazing digital magazine experience on iPad," said Thomas J. Wallace, editorial director of Conde Nast. "Wired's visionary execution of Adobe technology expands the potential of this new medium for all Conde Nast magazines. Our work with Adobe is just beginning. We expect to use this technology to deliver more of our publications over the coming months."

Omniture, Adobe's new online analytics platform, is part of this strategy. "Publishers want to have analytics around advertising content that they can serve back to their advertisers. There's also an opportunity to use analytics to help drive editorial decisions—what are your readers reading, how long do they spend on a page—so we definitely feel like Omniture would be a significant value add to the digital publishing platform. The team is looking at that and planning to integrate that," Schambers-Lenox said.

What's next? Adobe debuted this viewer technology on the iPad, but is also looking at other platforms across multiple devices, including the iPhone. "Adobe has always had a multi-platform strategy and approach and this is no different—we supported Wired on the iPad, we're definitely looking at the iPhone, and we're looking at other mobile platforms," Schambers-Lenox said.

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