declining iPad magazine sales are a good reminder that neither Apple nor publishers have really nailed the content and delivery of magazines in a digital format. And a story tonight in The Wall Street Journal reports that Google may be working to take advantage of this opportunity by setting up its own digital newsstand for Android.Reports of
Google has discussed its plans with a number of publishers, including Time Warner, Condé Nast and Hearst Corp, but according to the story, the details and timing are "vague." And it's possible that the venture won't materialize.
Despite some of the problems with digital magazine publishing, it seems unlikely Google wouldn't try for an Android alternative to iTunes, particularly as both consumers and publishers have been frustrated with the Apple (non-subscription) delivery model.
Wooing Publishers to Android with Better Consumer Data
Google has apparently told publishers that it would take a smaller cut from its Android apps than the 30% that Apple takes from iTunes sales. And to sweeten the deal, Google has also proposed giving publishers access to personal data about app consumers.
The latter has been a sticking point for the publishing industry, which has grumbled about Apple's refusal to hand over download data, arguing that it needs this sort of information to better serve readers (and advertisers).
For example, Jay Lauf, the publisher of The Atlantic recently wrote, "What happens if an "iStand" supplants the newsstand in the way iTunes has supplanted the record store and it supplants our traditional means of driving subscriptions? Currently it means the characteristics and locations of readers we've long had a direct relationship with, whom we know so much about--which allows us to provide them better content and more meaningful ways to engage while also allowing us to better service our advertisers--will be in the hands of Apple, not us."
For its part, Apple is preparing to make changes to iTunes in order to meet some of publishers' wishes, including adding subscriptions and sharing more user data. However, the latter will be "opt in" - subscribers can choose to share their personal information with the publisher. Or not. According to The Wall Street Journal, "some publishers remain unhappy with this arrangement because they think few customers would opt to share such data" - something that perhaps speaks volumes about the "relationship" that many readers have with magazines these days.
Photo credits: Flickr user Des Byrne