The cover of the June 2010 issue of Neurosurgery featured, rather presciently, an iPad. The accompanying editorial set out the Journal’s electronic strategy, one that would embrace social media networks and newly emerging hardware technologies. Then, the iPad had been available for approximately 90 days with 3 million sold. Some opined that the initial sales burst was due in large part to the Apple marketing machine and the dynamism of the late Steve Jobs; however, it is becoming increasingly evident that something more profound is occurring. In the 18 months since our editorial appeared, more than 40 million iPads have been sold. iPads now account for more than 70% of the mobile devices being used to access the Neurosurgery Web site.
Why an iPad Application?
To address this growing platform, our publisher, Lippincott Williams & Wilkins (LWW), has recently released a dedicated application to deliver Neurosurgery content on the iPad platform. Why an iPad application? Although visiting the Neurosurgery Web site on the iPad closely resembles the experience of navigating the site via a desktop browser, there are 3 critical shortcomings that are addressed by the iPad application:
First, the primary roadblock to true portability of Web-based content on the iPad has been that when a WIFI (or 3G) connection is not available, the Web site is inaccessible. To combat this, the Neurosurgery iPad application allows users to download an issue into the application library and read it later—with or without an active Internet connection. Additionally, each issue becomes automatically available to users of the application once it has been released electronically (usually 2-3 weeks before the publication date). Not only will you be able to read the content anywhere and anytime, but you will also have it first.
Second, while the multimedia content on the Neurosurgery Web site was developed with desktop browsers in mind, using Adobe’s Flash platform, Apple’s mobile devices have famously shunned Flash, rendering Neurosurgery’s Web-based video collection largely unusable on an iPad. In contrast, the iPad application plays back supplemental digital content seamlessly, and since the data has already been downloaded as part of the issue, there is no waiting time for the videos to download.
Lastly, sharing content with colleagues is easier than ever using the iPad application. Each individual article can be emailed, posted to a Facebook wall or Tweeted to followers. This ability to extend the readership of Neurosurgery content is a perfect example of Neurosurgery’s electronic strategy at work, as it serves both the educational mission of the CNS and the author’s desire to see their work distributed as effectively as possible.
From a reader’s perspective, the iPad application effectively mirrors the print experience. While ePUB and HTML often sacrifice the Journal’s aesthetic in the name of portability, the articles within the iPad application share the Journal’s recognizable visual style. Navigation through an issue is simple by way of the issue’s hot-linked Table of Contents, or by swiping through the issue in the revolutionary “browse” mode, a zoomed-out view of the entire publication.
For iPad users, we believe that LWW has provided an exceptional electronic experience, one that replicates print familiarity, while adding multimedia functionality and the convenience of electronic archiving.
In future iterations, we expect the application to evolve to include search functionality and notations. Receiving comments from our readers is essential to the improvement of the application, so we encourage you to contact the Editorial Office with your suggestions.
To download the free Neurosurgery iPad application, visit the Apple App Store and search for “Neurosurgery.”