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Umeå researchers working with Bonnier and Harvard on the future of digital magazines

Press Release   •   Feb 14, 2013 07:44 GMT

Scandinavian media giant Bonnier Corp. was among the first in the world to design a digital magazine specifically for the iPad. Two IT researchers at Umeå University followed the company's research and development division during the creation of the successful publishing platform Mag+. The findings were recently published by the prestigious Harvard Business School.

In April 2010, Apple founder Steve Jobs declared the digital magazine Popular Science+ as "king of the hill" when it comes to media apps for the iPad. It immediately awakened international interest for Scandinavian Bonnier, whose new publishing platform Mag+ was used to publish the magazine digitally.

The company's development efforts with the successful Mag+ was closely observed by Umeå researchers Daniel Nylén and Professor Jonny Holmström, who spent two years studying Bonnier in the attempt to renew and digitalize their operations. In a newly published study, the researchers explain, among other things, the concrete challenges that faced Sara Öhrvall, vice-president of research and development, and how she tackled the issues and decisions that affected the media industry's digital future. For instance, it could be how she reacted to new publishing models, pricing strategies, and integration with social media.

Sara Öhrvall, a former student at Umeå University, believes that the collaboration with Umeå researchers has been incredibly rewarding.

“When the Mag + was developed and launched nearly three years ago, Bonnier was very early to build a digital magazine for the iPad, says Sara Öhrvall. “It has been incredibly exciting and instructive to reflect on the company's innovation process during this period.”

Daniel Nylén is grateful that he had the opportunity to get to study Bonnier thoroughly, especially in work with high-risk projects to digitalize media production and to develop the future of digital magazines.

“I am glad that they welcomed us in so we could study the digitalization process in depth, says Daniel Nylén. “It also feels like a nice recognition that the study was published as a Harvard Business Case.

Professor Jonny Holmström believes that the interest from Harvard, one of the highest ranked universities in the world, demonstrates how the IT management team at Umeå University has enhanced its international position.

“Publishing a Harvard Business Case is certainly a feather in the cap, and we will continue our cooperation with both Harvard and Bonnier, says Jonny Holmström. “Collaboration of this caliber strengthens us in our ambition to be a leading research group in Informatics and Management.

The research study "Bonnier: Digitalizing the Media Business" is a collaboration between the doctoral degree student Daniel Nylén and Professor Jonny Holmström, Umeå University (Sweden), Professor Kalle Lyytinen, Case Western Reserve University (USA), and Professor Lynda Appelgate, Harvard Business School (USA).

More about the study

About Harvard Business School & the Case Method:
The case method is a proud educational innovation that is used as a teaching approach in different fields worldwide. Since the 1920s, the Harvard Business School further developed and refined the method, which has become a central element of their education. It places the student in the role of the decision maker facing a problem. There are no simple solutions; yet through the dynamic process of exchanging perspectives, countering and defending points, and building on each other's ideas, students become adept at analyzing issues, exercising judgment, and making difficult decisions—the hallmarks of skillful leadership.

For further information, please contact:

Daniel Nylén
Department of Informatics, Umeå University
Phone: +46 (0)70-335 1411,

Sara Öhrvall
VP Research & Development, Bonnier AB
Phone: +46 (0)70-811 5377,

Photo by: Clara Enqvist.
From left: Jonny Holmström, Kalle Lyytinen, Sara Öhrvall and Daniel Nylén.

Umeå University
Umeå University is one of Sweden's largest institutions of higher learning with over 36,000 students and 4,200 employees. We have a well-established international research profile and a broad range of study options. Our campus constitutes an inspiring environment that encourages interdisciplinary meetings - between students, researchers, teachers and external stakeholders. Through collaboration with other members of society, we contribute to the development and strengthen the quality of our research and education.

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