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Google Eyeing Digital Storefront For Newspapers, Magazines

January 3, 2011

Google has approached multiple magazine publishers, attempting to woo them and gain their support for a planned digital newsstand, the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) reported on Sunday.

WSJ reporters Russell Adams and Jessica E. Vascellaro, citing anonymous sources, said that the company is looking to compete with the digital newspaper and magazine offerings currently available on Apple’s iTunes store, and that “the e-newsstand would include apps from media companies offering versions of their publications for smartphones or tablets running Android.”

“Google hopes to launch it in part to provide a more consistent experience for consumers who want to read periodicals on Android devices, and to help publishers collect payment for their apps,” the Wall Street Journal said, noting that the Menlo Park, California-based company had already approached “a range of publishers, including Time Warner Inc.’s Time Inc. unit, Cond© Nast and Hearst Corp., according to people familiar with the matter. The three publishers declined to comment on any talks.”

“In recent weeks, these people say, Google has told publishers it would take a smaller slice on any sales they make of Android apps than the 30% cut Apple typically takes on iTunes sales. Google has also proposed giving publishers certain personal data about app buyers to help with marketing related products or services,” Adams and Vascellaro added.

Late last year, Google rolled out an online store offering digital books, according to Reuters reports. Regarding the Wall Street Journal report, Google issued a statement, saying: “We’ve consistently said we’re talking with publishers about ways we can work together, including whether we can help them with technology for subscription services. We have nothing specific to announce at this time.”

Adams and Vascellaro also reported that Apple was preparing to make changes to their iTunes store. Citing unnamed sources, the WSJ writers said that one of the changes would “make it easier for publishers to sell subscriptions on iTunes, in addition to single issues, with Apple keeping 30% of the tab”¦ That would allow publishers to offer discounts for longer-term commitments, as they do in print. And, because each new issue would automatically be sent to a subscriber’s iPad or other device, the publisher wouldn’t have to rely so much on buyers making frequent visits to iTunes.”

Apple declined the WSJ’s request for comment on the rumors.

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