Consumer Reports Launches iPad Subscriptions, 7 New Smartphone Apps

Consumer Reports, which named the iPad the top tablet earlier this year, is now adding subscriptions and free access for print subscribers to its iPad app. As part of its ongoing strategy to reach younger readers, it is also releasing seven new smartphone apps, including one that scans barcodes for instant access to CR ratings and reviews.

The CR iPad subscriptions launch with the January 2012 issue, which goes on sale December 6. Also starting with the January 2012 issue, print subscribers (who pay $29 per year) will have access to the iPad edition for free. Single issues are available through iTunes for $4.99, monthly iPad subscriptions are $2.99 and annual iPad subscriptions are $24.99.

The iPad edition is not included with online subscriptions, however: Subscribers to, who pay $26 per year, can add the iPad edition for an additional $12 per year. (Somewhat confusingly, print subscribers don’t get free access to, but can add it for $19 per year.)

Previously, iPad subscriptions were not available (single issues of the magazine on the iPad were $3.99) and print subscribers did not get free iPad access–something that made many of them quite unhappy, judging by the iTunes comments. (“As of now I rate CR a poor buy and do not recommend,” wrote one user.)

Chris Moody, CR director and general manager of print products, told Folio that the company intended all along to offer iPad/print bundles and iPad subscriptions, but didn’t have the resources to do so at the outset.

Consumer Reports is also releasing seven new iOS and Android smartphone apps (in addition to the free apps it’s already released), ranging in price from $0.99 to $4.99 per year. Consumer Reports Mobile Shopper, for $4.99, lets users scan barcodes to see Consumer Reports ratings and reviews. The other apps focus on appliances, babies’ and kids’ products, eco-friendly ingredients, TVs, washers and dryers, and hospital ratings.

A digital edition of Consumer Reports is also available for Kindle Fire, Nook and Nook Color, and Zinio, at $2 per month. Those editions are not free for print subscribers and are not optimized for Android tablets with larger screens, but Moody said the company is working on it.

Time Inc. and Condé Nast offer all-access subscriptions, bundling print and digital access, for some of their titles, while Hearst still charges print subscribers separately for digital access.