I admit that I was a sucker: I thought that tablets might be a way for magazines to make money. But this post at GigaOm really explains why that was a bad prediction. App subscriptions are practically nonexistent. And that's because they're walled-off from the rest of the internet.
When a magazine is organized as an app rather than as a website, its articles can neither be indexed or searched on the web. And even if they could, clicking the link in Google at best takes readers to an app store, not to the article itself — cutting the magazine out of the greatest traffic driver in today’s world.
The pattern is the same on social media. When you can’t link directly to an article, the urge to tweet or tell your friends about it drastically shrinks.
There are exceptions, of course. The Magazine is reportedly doing well, in part because it's much smaller-scale endeavor than the Conde Nast behemoths. So saying that magazines in general have failed is a bit rash, but the magazines that are still toughing it out on newsstands have not managed to find any amount of salvation in tablets. That's yet another safety net for paid, edited writing that's fallen to tatters; how many more safety nets can there be?