The growing success of digital media forced publishers to open up new ways of content marketing – and so did one of the largest European publishing houses: Axel Springer. In 2009, the company started an internal initiative tasking different project teams to develop new, digital formats.
A project manager of the publishing house – together with a small digital agency from Berlin called NoMoreSleep – developed a digital high-gloss magazine, which was to be offered online as a prepaid service. Kay was commissioned to develop a prototype, which was presented to the management board together with the ideas of other teams. The overall concept and Kay´s prototype convinced the directors, and it was decided to develop the magazine as a new product. However, the decision came at the same time as the announcement of Apple that they invented a new kind of tablet computer – the iPad. This was the perfect device for the new magazine format and the concept was adapted immediately: the publication should be developed exclusively for this new platform.
Since Kay already had experience in app development for the iPhone, he was also commissioned for the technical conception and implementation of the concept. And another goal was set: the magazine should be published simultaneously with the sales start of the iPad in Germany – to become the first German iPad magazine. Right from the beginning, the development felt like flying blind: there was a very good iPad simulator within the development software, but tests on a real device were not possible at that time. Kay developed a special framework that made it possible to implement even complex contentual narrative structures with relative ease. It turned out to be a fantastic product, and all were extremely satisfied with the result.
In the meantime, the sale of iPads had started in the US, and we somehow managed to get a test device to Germany – after one or two packages were mysteriously lost on the mailing route…
And then the panic started.
When the magazine was tested on the device, it crashed. Over and over again. The presentation date – at which the managing director of the publishing house, Dr. Matthias Döpfner, wanted to present the magazine to the public – moved closer. The team tried managed to get in touch with a technician at Apple to find the cause of the problems. This turned out to be quite complicated, and the stress level of all participants increased significantly.
But then the story took an unforeseen turn: the volcano Eyjafjallajökull in Iceland broke out.
Its ash clouds were so enormous that shortly after, a large part of the European airspace was blocked for air traffic, and Mr. Döpfner – who was still in the US – was „stuck“ there.
The ecological phenomenon could not have been better timed because it was exactly then that we got hold of an Apple technician, who was able to give the right clues to find and eliminate the problems, thus enabling us to prepare the magazine for publication in time.
We had finally had reached our goal: The Iconist was Germany’s first iPad magazine.
The iOS framework that was developed is so flexible and so highly versatile that we use it successfully for presentations and digital publications to this day.