Another one out

by Peter Rojas

cargoSpeaking of magazines, I just found out yesterday that yet another publication that I used to write for -- Cargo -- is shutting down. It now joins the list alongside the original Red Herring, Sync, FEED, and George (I wrote a profile of Larry Augustin for them that never got published because they went out of business about two weeks after I submitted it). Not sure what happened specifically this time around, but apparently the higher-ups at Condé Nast decided that the ad market just wasn't there and they opted to cut their losses rather than continue to pump money into the mag. Two years ago a magazine about gadgets (and all the other stuff men buy) may have seemed like a sure thing, but the simple fact of the matter is that it's hard for a magazine to cover the world of gadgets better than a website can (note that Cargo launched about the same time as Engadget -- early 2004 -- after two years has less than 10% of our readership). Cargo's tech coverage (as well as Sync's and Vitals's) was basically just Engadget in print three months later with better photography, and that's not going to cut it for someone interested in keeping up with the latest gadgets. Product cycles are so short now that the three month lead time of a magazine is practically an eternity; anyone serious about gadgets is reading this stuff online, and anyone only casually interested is probably satisfied with what they're getting in Maxim or Stuff or FHM. Cargo had to go after a rare breed of reader: someone interested enough in gadgets to subscribe to a magazine about them, but not quite interested enough to be reading Engadget, Gizmodo, or any of the hundreds of other gadget sites out there. Yeah, Cargo wasn't just about gadgets -- fashion and grooming were a big part of the magazine as well -- but it only makes their job harder. They essentially were targeting a reader, who in addition to wanting to read about $400 jeans, also wanted coverage of the world of gadgets that was more comprehensive than the page or two found in most men's magazines but less timely and thorough than what you could find online. Is it all that surprising that they never found a substantial audience?