gq goes digital in an unexpected way

And the last pony crosses the line. That’s what many in the publishing industry thought earlier this year when GQ finally outgrew its online foster home men.style.com and moved to a site of its own.

But the move seemed to be less about the magazine’s lagging reaction to print media’s online exodus, and more to do with publisher Conde Nast’s reluctant realization that its golden boy would have to join the peasants in the marketplace someday if it was going to stand a chance at all in the future. A future where if you’re not online, quite frankly, you don’t exist.

That’s why I find this so interesting. If you go to GQ.com, you will notice that the publication has launched a brand new “January” iPhone app. Why January? Because it’s not just an app. It’s an issue. The January issue.

Caught up in the rumor-addled tundra of tablet talk, I never really thought of the possibility of a publication creating content exclusively for the iPhone. Yet, here it is. GQ’s January issue, complete with “an app exlusive Rihanna video, America’s 10 best new restaurants, GQ’s Oscar picks, and more…”

This isn’t the magazine’s first time on the iPhone. Last month’s December issue was the real ground-breaker in this story. But it didn’t seem like one. It seemed like a cautious toe-dip in a very complicated, expensive pond ruled by tech-savvy trailblazers like Time Inc. (Sports Illustrated) and Bonnier (Popular Science). But Conde nast? No freakin’ way.

That’s why this month’s January issue app is big news. I thought the December issue was a unicorn. Turns out it’s just a horse. A thoroughbred to be fair. And I really hope there are more in the stable.

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