(Image is of Zinio Newsstand for iPad, but you get the idea … )
The release of the Samsung Galaxy Tab will give the iPad some competition. It reminds us that the rise of tablets has been positioned as a savior for publishing, including newspapers and magazines.
Theoretically, at least, tablets can process incremental per-copy and subscription sales via their download function. Utilizing their larger, touch-screen capabilities, they could also enable appealing interactive ads. The Galaxy Tab is expected to sell 1 million units by the end of 2010, while Apple has so far sold 7 million iPads.
Of course, we are equally intrigued by their potential for bundling in transactional capabilities. This includes everything from the sale of music, event tickets and even promotional giveaways of consumer packaged goods. All of these can become purchased “apps.”
Indeed, a successful billing vehicle has become something of a holy grail for e-commerce, partly driving the $1.2 billion sale of Skype to eBay in 2005, and the development of other phone-based commerce since then. But tablets, which have additional capabilities beyond the mobile “on the go” experience, might have additional potential.
A lot comes down to the success of a tablet newsstand that local (i.e., geographically zoned and often smaller) publishers could work with. Currently, for the iPad at least, the TuneKit format has been focused largely on large publishers (and most of these deals haven’t been consummated). Consequently, the only recourse that publishers have had is to build custom applications for the App Store — an expensive and iffy proposition, especially for smaller, local-oriented publishers.
While other publishers are often invited to participate on custom platforms, they haven’t offered ideal solutions. The New York Times platform, for instance, can only publish that day’s slate of stories. It can’t package “issues” containing historical content, pay-per-view support or tie-in to marketplace verticals such as classifieds and business directories.
One of the vendors that has focused on a better solution is Matchbin, the Utah-based CMS builder. It has been working on a newsstand solution that solves these issues for its customers, which include major newspaper publishers such as Freedom Communications, community weeklies and ethnic media, such as ImpreMedia and World Journal. Matchbin represents 850 media titles and services at this point.
Using Matchbin, publishers can choose to support subscriptions (including options for pricing, time period and/or number of issues). They can also choose to sell by single issue only. In the works are support services for dynamic user-interest matching, classifieds integration, vertical product integration and news wires.
While the Newsstand has been developed for iPad, Matchbin is working on Android, as well as solutions for desktop browsing, purchase and reading. The company also has its eyes on supporting BlackBerry.
All of this — coupled with subscription pay-per-view revenues — means that pubs will now be truly free to start shifting their expectations from print to digital, notes CTO Miles Romney.
Another newsstand vendor in the marketplace is Next Issue Media, which will open its consumer-oriented digital newsstand early next year. The service, however, is entirely oriented toward Android.
Matchbin CTO Miles Romney is giving a special demonstration of Matchbin’s Newsstand at ILM:10, which takes place Dec. 7-9 in Santa Clara.