Is the future shaped like a Rubber Duck?

rubberduckThe launch of the Middle East’s most sophisticated online magazine has been hailed as the beginning of a new era for digital publishing in this region – but questions remain over its ability to attract audiences away from more conventional print and online formats.

The Dubai-based publishers of RubberDuck say it is the world’s first online-only car lifestyle magazine. It uses Ceros technology which combines the standard page-turning format preferred by many online publications with interactive content such as mini games, short videos, music tracks and the power to move text and images around the page.

One of the big advantages is that a larger quantity and variety of content can be built into each page than with a print magazine or online page-turning platform. But a downside is that, depending on the capacity of your computer, it can take time to download all of the working parts.

Mohamed Elzubeir, magaging director of Dubai-based media analysts Mediastow, tells the latest edition of Campaign: “I wish RubberDuck all the best but I think they are a few years ahead of their time. In my experience, the novelty of the Flash and animation dies out quickly and it all boils down to content, visitors and advertisers.”

RubberDuck founders Dan Anslow and Jon Saxon, both stalwarts of well-known motoring titles such as Max Power and CAR, are confident that advertisers will support their venture. At the same time, the problems affecting the traditional print sector might make this a good time for innovation.

But it is difficult to ascertain the future for a format that is not only new to the Middle East, but has very few comparable peers worldwide. According to Herd (the blog of London-based communications agency Cow, who followed up on Campaign’s coverage of RubberDuck), the question is whether readers viewers want media-rich online offerings like this, or simpler formats that can be easily accessed through mobile devices such as iPhone. Time will tell, of course, but it doesn’t stop us wondering what the future holds for the advancement of online publishing formats.

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