By Alyson Fixter
Glamour, Britain’s biggest-selling women’s glossy, and men’s title GQ, have launched downloadable phone magazines amid predictions that 2006 will be the year of the mobizine.
Several publishers already produce mobile phone spin-off content — such as Maxim’s Little Black Book and Heat magazine’s celeb gossip alerts — but the mobizine is the first format that allows readers to download a cheap version of a magazine to be read without a network connection.
Time Out and OK! have also recently launched mobizines, while other major publishers are known to be considering the move.
Unlike much of the high-priced content available, a mobizine costs "pennies", according to creator Refresh Mobile, does not depend on tie-ins with phone operators and is automatically updated when each new edition is published.
Abigail Chisman, editor-in-chief of GQ publisher Condé Nast’s interactive division, said the company was planning to extend the format to its other magazines, adding: "Mobizines allow us to reach our most loyal readers directly so they need never be without us."
The mobile versions are created especially for phone screens, but echo their parent magazines in design and use a mixture of print and mobile-only content, similar to the way successful magazine websites have developed.
The Glamour version comes in four sections — Daily Gossip, Glam Cam, Fashion and Beauty and Catwalk Looks — each containing five scrollable stories, followed by links.
Each edition costs between 3p and 10p, depending on the network, added to a one-off fee to download a software reader.
James Beechener-Collins, editor of Future gadgets title T3, said the success of the format depended entirely on whether magazines were up to the challenge of producing good, tailored editorial.
"We’re using our mobiles more and more, but there’s an absence of content and an appetite for content from consumers,"
"It isn’t an alternative to a print magazine, [although] just as there are internet- only magazines I’m sure there will one day be magazines available only via mobile.
"Taking something direct from a print magazine and putting it on a mobile is never going to work. But there’s definitely a future in it."
But Matt Jerwood, head of mobile at Dennis, which has invested heavily in operator-based mobile spin-offs, but not mobizines, said: "My take on it is they [Refresh] are trying to create a WHSmith on mobile.
"If so, how will that take off, and does the consumer want to download WHSmith or each individual brand? I don’t know the answer to that."