The Digital Newsstand Hopefuls: Google, Apple and Everyone Else

By January 03, 2011
Line of newsstand kiosks

While Google's Digital Newsstand is an unconfirmed concept, the category in question is hotly pursued by device manufacturers, software developers and third-party applications.

Google is in the first stages of developing its own Digital Newsstand service, which will send Android device owners periodicals subscriptions to their mobile phones, tablets, or other gadgets that run their operating system. At this stage, Google is contacting publishers such as Time Inc, Condé Nast, and Hearst Corp, according to unnamed sources speaking to the Wall Street Journal.

While the project has not set a definite release schedule, the WSJ describes the pricing plan of Google's publishing applications. The sales cut would be smaller than Apple's thirty percent cut from iTunes sales, and will possibly furnish publishers with applicable consumer data.

VP of e-commerce at Google Stephanie Tilenius is the project leader, but Google's comments have been vague on the matter so far. "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," Google's statement reads. The participants in this media category are similar to that of electronic books - Apple is creating a subscription plan for iPad readers, and Amazon's Kindle and Kindle App stretches across multiple device platforms now. Color e-readers are entering the market, hoping to straddle the e-book and tablet niches.

Google has been receiving criticism from the publishing industry for years at this point for its Google Books subdomain. After several lawsuits, the search and media company has made available many public domain books and periodicals. Last month, Google began selling eBooks as well, as the Los Angeles Times points out today.

If Google's digital newsstand ever sees the light of the mobile screen, it could mean much to developers who have not made it onto Apple's iOS devices. Thrice-rejected document sharing app Issuu gave up trying to make it to the App Store in November, but was downloaded over 125,000 times on Android. If Android becomes a more well known publication platform, periodical readers may switch to such devices in greater number

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