ACP’s PC User is reborn as TechLife

Techlife magazineACP’s technology title PC User is to be rebranded TechLife.

The magazine will launch in June to address a lack of innovation in the consumer technology publication space, according to the publisher.

It will be available as a print edition, with an online and social media presence as well as tablet and smartphone apps.

ACP’s director of media, public affairs and brand development, Deborah Thomas told Mumbrella in February that PC User was “not in danger of closing”.

TechLife will cover a broader spectrum than PC User, offering editorial on the application of technology to all consumer lifestyle activities, from fitness to entertainment.

The editor of PC User, Glen Rees, left the magazine a month ago.

Tony Sarno, editor of APC Magazine, will become editor-in-chief of both titles. All PC User editorial staff will move over to the new title.


Tony Sarno (picture supplied)

Sarno said: “Consumer technology magazines haven’t really innovated since the 1980s, concentrating primarily on products through reviews, testing and ratings. TechLife will focus on lifestyle activities — such as leisure and entertainment, health and fitness — and explain how technology can enhance those pursuits”.

Around 200,000 copies of the magazine are to be published in May as a sampler and distributed to a readership of 900,000, along with an electronic sampler and heavy promotion at point of sale.

The launch is intended to complement the APC magazine brand, which is aimed at professionals and “power users.”


  1. Jack B. Nimble
    21 Mar 12
    1:22 pm

  2. Glenn Rees did not just ‘leave’, he was made redundant under the new structure which saw APC editor Sarno take charge of both titles.

  3. Trevor Long
    21 Mar 12
    1:52 pm

  4. What do they say about Immitation and Flattery?

    Should be good for my SEO:)


  5. buyer
    21 Mar 12
    2:02 pm

  6. So in order to “address the lack of innovation in the technology space” they decided to re-launch a magazine?

    Now that, Alanis Morrisette, is the real definition of irony.

  7. Dude
    21 Mar 12
    2:33 pm

  8. Who would supply that picture?

  9. Cameron
    21 Mar 12
    2:54 pm

  10. If the figures in the story on The Australian’s website are correct, PC User was outselling APC by almost 10,000 copies a month, yet they punted PC User’s editor and put APC’s editor in charge of the lot. I don’t really understand that sort of logic. Why punt the editor of the more successful title? And why are they are rebranding the better performing of their two tech mags? If ACP was selling 10,000 less every month, wouldn’t it have been a candidate for more immediate attention? Does anyone get what’s going on? I don’t. This is all very strange.

  11. Jack B. Nimble
    21 Mar 12
    3:40 pm

  12. Cameron, the key is that Glenn Rees has been the editor of PCU for almost 20 years, starting in the early 90s. Tony Sarno may have been editing APC for less than half that but he’s come form SMH, Australian and Fairfax online so clearly has a broader background which can give you more experiences to draw upon. And also Sarno can ‘sell’ his vision very well, he’s very good at ‘marketing’ so I guess he had a vision of the new direction PCU needed to go in. And also was not the guy who had, through no fault of his own, been in the seat during the decline of PCU. And also could present and sell his ‘vision’ well enough to come out the winner.

  13. Tony Sarno
    21 Mar 12
    3:54 pm

  14. The comment that really annoys me under this story is the one from Dude. Yes, I originally supplied that picture of me. Do you have a problem with it?
    Tony Sarno

  15. Tiffany
    21 Mar 12
    4:08 pm

  16. Cameron, well put.

    My theory is that whilst tech mags were on the fast downward slope on circ and readership, ACP made the decision to salvage the highest read (PC User) before it was too late and rebadge it to fit the current trend in tech lifestyle.
    I believe its a great positioning of the new title and perhaps should have been done sooner.

    Its a shame about seeing Glenn go though, his loyal fans will be following his next moves…

  17. IC
    21 Mar 12
    5:33 pm

  18. Last audit APC circulation down 16.63% to 22,226 (around 2/3rds of PCUser’s 31,062) despite brilliant marketing!!! What circulation have they committed too???

  19. Tony Sarno
    21 Mar 12
    6:23 pm

  20. BTW, for those that don’t seem to know what APC is. It’s not just the print mag (which by the way, is pitched at a different audience to PC User). It’s also a website with around 500,000 unique users a month; a tablet edition which is now growing very quickly, and a specialist buying recommendation website with a smartphone version as well. All done pretty much within a budget that originally was used to put out just the print magazine. Unlike some of the commenters here, I like to look at the bigger picture of what a brand is these days and the total number of eyeballs it delivers.

  21. Ivory Tower
    21 Mar 12
    8:57 pm

  22. The main reason for the change is most likely the desire to broaden the advertising base. The words “leisure, entertainment, health and fitness” may be editorial directions but they are following the path of ad revenue. Will their current audience stick with them? Probably not, but it doesn’t really matter when they are leaving the category in droves anyway. At least they’re not just waiting around to die.

  23. Jack B. Nimble
    21 Mar 12
    10:54 pm

  24. I agree with Tiffany’s take on this, the mainstream title will always have best chance of success and the mainstream of ‘computing’ has changed enormously over the years, it’s now not even ‘computing’, technology is part of everyday life. So reorienting PC User to that position and that audience to make it relevant to them makes perfect sense, and todo that you’d have to have a change in name and brand because ‘PC User’ is absolutely the wrong brand for today’s mainstream audience. This is in effect like launching an entirely new magazine into this space. APC can then fine-tune its focus to pick up all the rusted on PCU readers who will not want the new mag, so it’s win-win.

  25. Cameron
    22 Mar 12
    11:08 am

  26. The way I see it, if you have a brand that is still successful — particularly relative to the other computer mags out there — you’re best not to mess with it. That is just simple, down the line, common sense. Once PC User is messed with, what’s more likely to happen? More readers or less? The smart money’s on less. So why do it? All this talk of what’s happening in the industry “in general” isn’t really a substitute for the solid gold fact that, in PC User, ACP still had a title that was doing well, again, relative to everyone else, which suggests that, no matter what’s happening “in general”, it was still hitting a particular niche that, mark my words here and now, won’t appreciate the formula being messed with.

  27. Cameron
    22 Mar 12
    11:10 am

  28. PS: In relation to the supplied photo, I daresay why Dude made reference to it is because it’s… well… a bit weird looking. You look haunted in it, Tony.

  29. Jack B. Nimble
    22 Mar 12
    12:51 pm

  30. Cameron: “Once PC User is messed with, what’s more likely to happen? More readers or less? The smart money’s on less. So why do it?”

    Because the circulation trend clearly shows there are going to be less readers anyway, no matter what ACP does. So what do you do? If you leave things as they are then at some stage circ reaches the point where it’s just not worth doing the magazine at all, so it’s shuttered, and long before then advertisers have been jumping ship anyway.

    So you may as well recognise the change in this industry, bite the bullet and launch what is in effect an all-new magazine in your attempt to reach into a broader market. This is what ACP should have done a decade ago, but the beancounters were probably focussed on the audience they had at the time (and didn’t want to lose) rather than the fact that they were losing them anyway and something needed to be done about it.

    ACP and PCU have tried a few things but on the whole the mag has stuck to the same safe formula year-in year-out. Yes, it’s a formula that ‘worked’ in one sense, it kept the bulk of readers happy enough, but there was inevitable leakage with every survey, and the focus was on minimising loss to single-digits rather than going for growth.

    Now to me that’s a defeatist attitude, and a short-sighted one, albeit an understandable one. But it’s a bit like saying “The boat is leaking, don’t rock the boat or we’ll sink faster” instead of “Let’s plug the effing leak!”.

    As for how PCU readers will feel, of course most of them will be unhappy and make no bones about shouting that from the rooftops.

    Yes, most of the rusted-on readers will hate the new TechLife magazine. But that comes with the territory when you make a change like this. I’m sure ACP will swing their subscription over to APC magazine and I’m sure a lot of the will like TechLife or know someone who will like it, in fact I guarantee that for every PCU reader there would have to be hundreds if not thousands of potential TL readers.

    The trick will be making those people into TL readers, and with all the sampling and bundling ACP’s going to do plus some cross-promo on ninemsn I reckon they will make a good first of it.

    And in a technical sense , PCU will not take a circ hit from readers walking away because PCU won’t be around. It will cease to exist.

    I reckon this is one of those ‘desperate times call for desperate measures’ moves. ACP had to do something, and something big, something radical. As long as they commit to TL for at least 18 months and don’t shirk from making the most of this opportunity they could be onto a winner.

  31. Cameron
    22 Mar 12
    3:06 pm

  32. “PCU will not take a circ hit from readers walking away because PCU won’t be around. It will cease to exist.”

    But that ignores that PC User currently makes ‘x’ amount of dollars for ACP. When it ceases to exist, there’s a hole in the budget. That hole obviously needs to be filled with something — ideally of the same size or larger. But if a certain number of PC User readers give up on the book, or go to APC or another title, that means the hole isn’t fully filled back in and the new title starts from a negative position before the first issue even pops out. That’s my point!