In a push by both technology developers and the print industry, Google is positioning itself to compete against the magazine and newspaper apps available from Apple’s iTunes store with the possible release of the Android Newsstand product.
Long languishing to almost the point of death, the periodical and print news industry got a major shot in the arm from Apple. The company sells periodical issues through its iTunes Store at 99 cents per issue for most brands. The original push by Apple gave new life to some publications, with some brands selling more online than it ever did in print. However, there has been a slow but sustained decline in the amount of downloads.
Some users have commented that the 99cent per issue is too much, especially when they rarely get the time to read the whole issue on their devices. Others have complained that the online versions of many print periodicals they’ve purchased are nothing more than image heavy, graphics laden pages with nowhere near the amount of content they have come to expect from their print counterparts. Yet, no one is buying the print versions.
Without question, Google’s motives aren’t exactly to save the periodical and print newspaper industry; Apple has cornered the market and Google needs to find a successful path in. However, any foray by Google to get major publications onto more tablets and smart phones can only benefit the ailing print industry.
The problem of course is the content in periodicals: whether an entertainment rag like Rolling Stone Magazine or the hard hitting journalism of the New York Times, the focus is current events. There is no place as current as the Web. You can get more up to date, real time information by searching Google, Facebook or Twitter than in a magazine or newspaper these days. Print journalism just can’t compete anymore—which is why even the most beloved brands are in hot water.
Then there are the advertisement issues. As more of the public went online for just about everything, ad dollars—the bread and butter of magazines and newspapers—were transferred to serve online marketing strategies. That’s how the annual subscription rates for magazines and newspapers stayed so low to the public. Now that ad dollars have dried up, annual subscription rates can’t even begin to cover the cost of running the print operation. Unfortunately, generating ad revenue in the online versions hasn’t brought in the amount of money expected either.
Google’s Android Newsstand, along with the iTunes offerings from Apple and the periodical publications available on e-readers such as Barnes and Nobles’ Nook Color and Amazon’s Kindle, will help to push a new business model for magazines and newspapers that perhaps will help them to survive the transition they are in. Although Google has stated they are not in a position to confirm any plans, they have acknowledged that they are speaking to publishers about the possible Android Newsstand product.
To be successful however, publishers will have to listen to the complaints of consumers who already purchase e-publications through Apple, Amazon and Barnes and Noble.