Robot 6

In 2010, comics owned the iPad

The Marvel app for the iPad

Apple has released a list of the top apps for iPhone and iPad in its iTunes store, and three of the top five grossing book apps for the iPad are not just comics readers, they are all from comiXology: Marvel Comics, Comics (their multi-publisher reader), and DC Comics. This reflects not just the quality of the iPad as a comics medium for comics but also the large numbers of comics that must be selling through those apps (the apps themselves are free). The top grosser in the book category is The Elements, a visual exploration of the periodic table, which probably doesn’t have a lot of mass appeal but sells for $13.99, and the number five app is The Cat in the Hat, which does have a lot of appeal and sells for $3.99. That three comics apps can match that tells me that people are buying a lot of comics through them.

The pattern is the same for the rest of the top ten book apps—all but the comics apps are single-book apps (as opposed to an e-reader like Stanza), and none are free: Alice in Wonderland, the Bible, a Toy Story read-along, and two more Dr. Seuss books.

The Marvel and DC apps are number three and six, respectively, on the list of most downloaded free apps.

Comics by comiXology is also the top-grossing book app on the iPhone, and the only free one in the top five; the others are a free-book app (pay for the app and the books are free—the opposite of comiXology’s model), a free-audiobook app, and two versions of the Bible. None of the comics readers makes it into the top ten most downloaded free apps for the iPhone.

What all this indicates is that comics readers are buying a lot of product through the iPad, and they are buying it from Marvel and DC. That doesn’t mean that the non-superhero readers aren’t there, but the readership for any one comic (Scott Pilgrim, say) doesn’t match the number of Marvel and DC fans.

Missing from all these lists is iVerse’s Comics+ reader, which has a smaller selection of Marvel comics. It is also slower and a bit harder to use than the comiXology apps, although I suspect readers are making their selection based on the comics available rather than ease of use. Panelfly, which started as the artier of the iPhone comics readers, is also not on the list and doesn’t have an iPad app at all., available for iPad and iPhone, got a late start this year and is still building an audience; it does carry Marvel, but again, the selection is small.

(Via ICv2.)


6 Comments has Marvel, but I haven’t seen any DC on there yet.

They aren’t; I made some updates to the above, as, digitally speaking, DC is solely on comiXology and the Playstation Comics store.

Very nice! I’d like to see where comics apps rank a year or two from now, though. At this stage, the typical iPad owner and the typical mainstream comics fan are still pretty similar. Likely male, likely 30+ years old, likely geeky/nerdy/techie . . . (insert anecdotes about exceptions here.)

When/if the iPad becomes ubiquitous among a wider range of people, like iPods are today, it’ll be interesting to see if comics apps drop like a rock, or if enough new readers decide to try them that they stay in the upper ranks.

Winston Davidson

December 13, 2010 at 8:31 pm

Does Comixology own stock in you or vice versa? Their comic app has definite flaws just like the other apps, but I’ve yet to see you write anything negative about them.

Again no mention of the Pocket God comic app which has been in the top 10 best selling iPhone book apps since it’s launch in August and a top ten grossing iPhone book app almost that entire time.

Maybe once we are outgrossing both Marvel and DC apps at the end of the month on the iPhone with 5 comics to their 100s someone will be forced to cover one of the most successful digital comic launches to date.

Oxicomics makes a nice app. One the better ones out there.

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