PEOPLE magazine is now available for iPad. The application is free to download, but each issue is a $3.99 in-app purchase. However, if you are a subscriber to the print version of PEOPLE, you get the iPad version for free! Unfortunately, there is not a subscription model in place with the app. So subscribing to strictly the iPad version is not an option.

In addition to the content of the print version of PEOPLE, the iPad version offers even more:

  • Double the number of Star Tracks pics, plus bonus, iPad-only, photo galleries throughout the issue
  • Special celebrity videos
  • Movie trailers, TV previews, song samples and other entertainment extras
  • Instant breaking news updates on our top stories throughout the entire week

It's great to see big media making a step in the right direction concerning digital distribution. I initially found it odd that PEOPLE magazine did not implement an in-app subscription model, but this decision was likely made because Apple gets a 30% cut from subscriptions. If I'm interested in a digital subscription to PEOPLE magazine, I can subscribe to the print version and get the iPad one for no extra charge. Meanwhile, PEOPLE is getting 100% of my sign-up fee instead of only 70%.

Is this a smart choice, though? PEOPLE would cut the cost of making and shipping prints if they had an iPad-only subscription available to customers. But would these savings balance out the 30% cut to Apple? Also, it's much less convenient for me to sign up for the print version than just a quick tap for the iPad version. I likely may never actually sign up for the magazine even if I intended to. So PEOPLE magazine just lost me as a customer. How many potential customers are being lost by not having an iPad subscription available? These are all things that PEOPLE magazine and Time Inc need to take into serious consideration.

One exciting thing about PEOPLE magazine's iPad release is that it's a good sign that other Time Inc magazines will be hitting the app store soon. It is expected to see the rest of their apps in the next 30 days.

Any PEOPLE subscribers taking advantage of their free digital copy? I purchased the most recent issue and find the app to be very well made. Does availability on the iPad entice anyone to purchase a print subscription? Are you subscriber to a different Time Inc magazine and eagerly waiting the release of an iPad app? Lastly, what are your thoughts on their current business model? Are they making a good choice, or do they need to provided an in-app subscription to customers?

Sound off in the comments below!

[All Things Digital, PEOPLE Magazine - iTunes link]