Fast Company and Adobe: A Case of Collaborating on a Mobile Upgrade

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Article ImageCompany: Fast Company

Fast Company is renowned in the business world as a go-to source for knowledge. As its website notes, the company is often seen as "the world's leading progressive business media brand, with a unique editorial focus on innovation in technology, ethonomics (ethical economics), leadership, and design." The publication and its website are "written for, by, and about the most progressive business leaders." 


Business Challenge

Despite Fast Company's reputation as a leader in progressive ideas about business, its mobile app was starting to seem stale. It was not exactly a problem, but as user expectations changed, it became clear that the app was going to need to evolve. Meanwhile, Adobe was starting to think about new ways to help its customers create more dynamic mobile apps. The two companies began a conversation that led to a collaboration in which Fast Company got a new, more dynamic web-like app, and Adobe was able to learn more about what kind of functions and features were of value to customers hoping to build these kinds of apps.

Vendor of Choice: Adobe

Adobe is "the global leader in digital marketing and digital media solutions," according to its website. That's not lip service; it is known for some pretty iconic products in the digital world, such as Adobe Reader, Adobe Flash Player, Adobe Acrobat, Adobe Illustrator CC, Adobe InDesign CC, and Adobe Digital Publishing Solution. 



The Problem In-Depth

This case study is a little different than most. The customer wasn't the only one to get something out of this collaboration. According to Robert Safian, editor-in-chief and managing director of Fast Company, his company didn't have a business challenge that it was looking to overcome. "It's really a collaboration between us and Adobe; it's not that we particularly had a problem and we needed somebody to help us and we went to Adobe," he explains.

Fast Company's app was similar to other magazine apps. Every month, users downloaded what amounted to a digital version of the magazine. They could page through it at their leisure. That style of app leaves a lot of content on the table. At the time of the new app's release, Safian wrote a blog post explaining it this way: "While we're proud of our existing (and still ongoing) iPad app for the monthly magazine, the readership remains small compared with the volume of users who access our content on the web and via their phones. Why not offer those users a unified app-based experience that lives on both iPad and iPhone?"

Safian says that, in the past, the goal was to try to "take a magazine experience and to replicate it on the iPad." However, Fast Company wanted to do something different and "try and create a product experience that is perfectly suited to those devices using all the range of content that we have, and so that started in conversations that Nick [Bogaty, Adobe's senior director, head of digital publishing] and I started having over a year ago."

In a nutshell, Safian says Fast Company wanted "a more efficient way of getting our content to people on a variety of digital devices and to create a kind of product experience on those devices that is native and most appropriate to that device." Meanwhile, Adobe was starting to think about how it could help customers create the exact kind of app experience that Safian was describing. In the past, many publishers found that the only way to create this kind of app was to build it yourself from the ground up-which represented a business opportunity for Adobe.

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