After powering 100 issues of 'Trvl' for iPad, Prss is pitched as 'the software Apple forgot to make'
Sunday, April 14, 2013, 05:54 am
By Neil HughesPopular iPad-only magazine Trvl reached 100 issues and a million app installs last week. Now, the company behind the publication has set its sights on its next major milestone: this summer's public launch of its proprietary publishing tool, Prss.
Michel Elings, co-founder of Prss and Trvl for iPad, spoke with AppleInsider about his new publishing tools that will soon be available to iOS developers. He said he learned a great deal about the digital publishing world two and a half years ago, when Trvl debuted on the iPad, when he "made all of the mistakes in one month."
The mantra behind Prss is to not "screw" anyone — particularly the reader or the publisher
At the start, Trvl put all of the content in one downloadable issue with a large file size, and published once a month for a $2.99 price.
"People really hated us," he admitted.
When Elings and his team started out, they were working with Adobe InDesign to create Trvl. When that wasn't enough, they tried some other tools, but nothing quite cut it in their eyes. The main problem, he said, is third-party platforms have the goal of being on every platform, rather than focusing on doing the best possible job on just one.
That's when the team behind Trvl started developing their own digital publishing tools, which they've dubbed Prss. In the words of Elings, he and his team set out to become "the software Apple forgot to make."
"We started our own software because we as a publisher felt screwed, and we also felt that the readers were screwed," he said.
In its current form, Prss powers the popular 'Trvl' for iPad. A free, public version of the tool will launch early this summer.Since moving to their own publishing platform, Trvl has reached the 100-issue milestone and become one of the top rated applications on Apple's iOS Newsstand with over a million installs. In particular, the magazine's issues are relatively small downloads up to 10 times smaller than most existing iPad magazine issues — changes made possible by their development of Prss.
In fact, their efforts in publishing Trvl have gained the attention of Apple themselves, as the company has pushed behind the scenes to help set up some "really interesting" partners with Prss, which Elings can't yet name. The nearly 20-person Prss team has even met with Apple senior executive Eddy Cue, and Elings said he's hoping they'll be able to win an Apple Design Award at this year's Worldwide Developers Conference.
Apple also highlighted Trvl at WWDC last year, showcasing the digital magazine in its keynote presentation at the annual event.
When it launches publicly early this summer, Prss will be a free Web-based tool that will allow multiple people to design a magazine simultaneously. The software will support communities inside iPad magazines, as well as e-commerce to help fund digital publications.
In one example cited by Elings, many iPad magazines don't support both portrait and landscape modes for reading. But he claims that the tools within Prss allowed Trvl to reduce the time needed to design for both orientations from three days to just one hour.
The goal is to reach both professional and individual markets for iOS magazine development. In Elings' view, Prss could be used by a soccer club to make its own publication, while a major publisher like Conde Nast could "throw InDesign out the window" in favor of Prss.
"We really want to start a revolution," he said. We're going to bring the very best tools over to the rest of the world."
For now, Prss will remain iOS-only. Co-founder Michel Elings said it's hard to have the same passion for Android, which would hamper quality.
The Prss Web-based suite will be free to use, but publishers who distribute their magazine on the iOS App Store will have to pay what Elings called a "little" fee for using the software. The idea is Prss will cost publishers much less to use than, say, Adobe's InDesign, which can take a 30 percent cut of sales.
The final look and feel of Prss has not yet been decided, as the software is just on the company's internal systems for now. And it will remain an iOS-exclusive tool for the time being, as Elings and his team believe Apple's platform is the superior option.
Their sights are now set on the iPhone and iPod touch, which Elings said could tenfold the market share of Prss. After that, the next target for Prss will be the Web, not Google's Android. Elings said he just doesn't find that developers have a "big passion" for Android.
"If we are going to do Android, which we probably have to, we want to approach it the same way and with the same passion, which is going to be hard," he admitted.
Wherever Prss goes next, Elings said the main focus for him and his team will be the same mantra they've had on iPad to date: Don't "screw" the reader or the publisher, and good things will happen.