News Publishers Launch Joint Venture Targeting Digital Content Distribution

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Apr 12, 2001
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Five major magazine publishers today announced the creation of a joint venture to develop standards for a digital content storefront and viewing on portable devices.
Condé Nast, Hearst, Meredith, News Corporation and Time Inc. today jointly announced that they have entered into an independent venture to develop open standards for a new digital storefront and related technology that will allow consumers to enjoy their favorite media content on portable digital devices.
Rumors of collaboration among major magazine publishers looking to prepare for Apple's much-rumored entrance into the tablet market have been circulating in recent months, with word of the specific joint venture appearing late last month.

While today's press release provides little specific information on plans for the new venture, it offers four goals for creating a flexible and robust framework to allow magazine publishers to offer their content and advertising on a variety of portable devices.
The goal of this digital initiative is fourfold, to create: a highly featured common reading application capable of rendering the distinctive look and feel of each publication; a robust publishing platform optimized for multiple devices, operating systems and screen sizes; a consumer storefront offering an extensive selection of reading options; and a rich array of innovative advertising opportunities.
With a growing number of devices capable of accessing media content, from the iPhone and other smartphones to dedicated e-readers to Apple's forthcoming tablet, publishers have recognized the potential for new revenue streams as well as the need to streamline the process for offering content for this wide variety of devices.

Article Link: News Publishers Launch Joint Venture Targeting Digital Content Distribution
 

revs

macrumors regular
Jun 2, 2008
198
21
Worcestershire
Sounds to me as if they are pre-empting the Apple tablet / iTunes Store lock-in by creating their own standard and store first
 

miketcool

macrumors 6502a
Jun 24, 2003
874
221
California
I just thought I would make light of the fact that Apple is going ahead with a new device to bring about paid web content. While I agree with some publishers and writers, that free sources are undermining a lot of talented writing staffs; the paid content model is dead.

I understand that premium content, will always be premium and come with a price. But for the majority of consumers and publishers out there, paying for information that can be obtained faster and for free is now the standard. Can you imagine PAYING for twitter?

Apple's attempt at saving paid, printed media via the tablet, should be a fascinating experiment. I wish them well for the stockholder's sake, but this is an extremely risky venture.
 

Grimace

macrumors 68040
Feb 17, 2003
3,541
40
with Hamburglar.
It isn't risky for Apple, as it will only be providing the hardware. The actual content (through iTunes, etc.) generates revenue (hopefully) for the news companies.

iTunes is a break-even venture for Apple, but it sells a boat load of iPods and iPhones! Same thing here.

Other iPhone-like apps, even OSX apps, would add resiliency to Apple's product if the paid digital content doesn't take off.
 

zombitronic

macrumors 65816
Feb 9, 2007
1,115
6
Maybe I'm being cynical, but is it really a good idea to develop a software standard for non-existent hardware? Are they really creating anything more substantial than a glorified flash page? Aren't there OS specific APIs that they should be concerned about? Could this potentially lock them out of a future hardware design? So many questions...
 

miketcool

macrumors 6502a
Jun 24, 2003
874
221
California
It isn't risky for Apple, as it will only be providing the hardware. The actual content (through iTunes, etc.) generates revenue (hopefully) for the news companies.

iTunes is a break-even venture for Apple, but it sells a boat load of iPods and iPhones! Same thing here.
The thing is with music, if you screw up the iTunes Music Store, record labels and artists might whine and move on.

When you screw up a promise to save The Media with paid content, The Media tells on you. Apple has a PRISTINE image right now in the eyes of The Media. If that tarnish that relationship, there could be a backlash from news outlets, media corporations and content publishers that billions of subscribers will see.

If Apple releases the tablet, subsidized, and sales don't go well, and this entire paid digital content venture becomes a waste for those who invested heavily in it; Apple may be blamed. Fair or unfair.
 

TheSlush

macrumors 6502a
Mar 28, 2007
658
22
New York, NY
Control

Maybe I'm being cynical, but is it really a good idea to develop a software standard for non-existent hardware? Are they really creating anything more substantial than a glorified flash page? Aren't there OS specific APIs that they should be concerned about? Could this potentially lock them out of a future hardware design? So many questions...
Indeed. I think they're just scared of Apple (while they should be excited) and trying to get out of the gate first, with something, anything... in a futile attempt to preserve control and shovel some sand against the inevitable tide of Apple's tablet+iTunes dominance of the entire publishing marketplace.

The companies (music, media, whatever) that fear and complain about Apple are more focused on control than on pleasing the customer.
 

knewsom

macrumors 6502a
Jun 9, 2005
949
0
Sounds to me like Apple is dragging their feet on the tablet, and if they don't watch it, they'll end up with the wrong standard at the wrong time, supporting a dead business model. Smooth move.
 

mkrishnan

Moderator emeritus
Jan 9, 2004
29,777
12
Grand Rapids, MI, USA
Pffffft, why can't they embrace new things instead of whining.
It seems hard to conclude that they're not. I understand that people want everything for free. Things like fashion magazines, if anything, probably have the most potential for this, since they're heavily advertiser subsidized to begin with. But they need some tools put in place to create an enticing market for advertisement. The problem with web advertisement today is that is wildly out of sync with what the website's customers want, on most websites. The ads in the magazines I used to read in print -- a business process and technology that is now decades old -- were in much better alignment with my interests than the best of web ads.

Otherwise, the bottom line of wanting free, quality content, without ads, is that it is not a sustainable business model. Twitter is hardly a replacement for the New York Times, and Perez Hilton's blog is hardly a replacement for GQ.
 

miketcool

macrumors 6502a
Jun 24, 2003
874
221
California
Indeed. I think they're just scared of Apple (while they should be excited) and trying to get out of the gate first, with something, anything... in a futile attempt to preserve control and shovel some sand against the inevitable tide of Apple's tablet+iTunes dominance of the entire publishing marketplace.

The companies (music, media, whatever) that fear and complain about Apple are more focused on control than on pleasing the customer.
Actually, media publishers are trying to stem the tide against Google's advertising dominance, and ability to crawl all over the place for information that kills their sales. Google has the dominant ideology, and publishers are hoping Apple can wave some of it's magic over the industry to bring back their control. Apple is likely being cautious because they get one shot to get this right to make it successful. There must be tremendous pressure at Apple by Jobs to nail this introduction as the most successful one yet.
 

miketcool

macrumors 6502a
Jun 24, 2003
874
221
California
The ads in the magazines I used to read in print -- a business process and technology that is now decades old -- were in much better alignment with my interests than the best of web ads.e New York Times, and Perez Hilton's blog is hardly a replacement for GQ.
Maybe this is my design sense getting in the way, but the reason I often purchased magazines was FOR the ads. They were well formatted, well designed, often became inspirational, and matched perfectly with the content. IMO this comes from a certain slowness that monthly publishers have. The more time you have to work on content, the better synchronization you have.

You like at fly by night design companies, and their work is sloppy and fairly shallow. Companies that take months to produce a design have very integrated, well thought out solutions. Apple is taking their time on this like magazine publishers take month to publish one issue. The web with it's instant gratification has forever ruined the slowness us designers used to enjoy.

If you ask me, the real future is in collaborative publishing. When someone figures out a system to control the quality and pay those who collaborate, we will have a winner. More people, more perspectives, faster, and quality.
 

Digitalclips

macrumors 65816
Mar 16, 2006
1,466
31
Sarasota, Florida
Maybe this is my design sense getting in the way, but the reason I often purchased magazines was FOR the ads. They were well formatted, well designed, often became inspirational, and matched perfectly with the content. IMO this comes from a certain slowness that monthly publishers have. The more time you have to work on content, the better synchronization you have.

You like at fly by night design companies, and their work is sloppy and fairly shallow. Companies that take months to produce a design have very integrated, well thought out solutions. Apple is taking their time on this like magazine publishers take month to publish one issue. The web with it's instant gratification has forever ruined the slowness us designers used to enjoy.

If you ask me, the real future is in collaborative publishing. When someone figures out a system to control the quality and pay those who collaborate, we will have a winner. More people, more perspectives, faster, and quality.
You have a good point on ad quality and I agree they are part of the glossy magazine just as much as the articles for many. I hope they keep the high standards and don't let this new media get cluttered with lousy Flash ads as is the web. Although I suspect Apple will nix Flash on their Tablet so perhaps that is less of a worry.
 

mkrishnan

Moderator emeritus
Jan 9, 2004
29,777
12
Grand Rapids, MI, USA
Maybe this is my design sense getting in the way, but the reason I often purchased magazines was FOR the ads. They were well formatted, well designed, often became inspirational, and matched perfectly with the content. IMO this comes from a certain slowness that monthly publishers have. The more time you have to work on content, the better synchronization you have.
You have a good point on ad quality and I agree they are part of the glossy magazine just as much as the articles for many. I hope they keep the high standards and don't let this new media get cluttered with lousy Flash ads as is the web. Although I suspect Apple will nix Flash on their Tablet so perhaps that is less of a worry.
Yeah, this is quite reasonable -- and I agree. This is a big difference between my reading GQ or the like, and my reading the web. When I read the magazines I like, I enjoy looking at the ads. When I read websites, I've even used adblocking fairly heavily in the past (although I'm trying to be more responsible, and as I do think the web is not sustainable without ad revenues, I mostly stopped using blockers). In any event the number of web ads that I consider high quality or memorable is really low, whereas with some companies, e.g. Prada, I think their ads in print are almost invariably thoughtful.

With respect to collaborative publishing, I do think it has potential in the future, although I think also that the web has led to a reduction in content quality (comparing "new media" online publication perhaps not to CNN, but to the NYT, NPR, WSJ, and the best magazines, etc), and the collaborative world needs to work harder on their mechanisms to ensure content quality, in addition to their revenue / sustainability model.
 

miketcool

macrumors 6502a
Jun 24, 2003
874
221
California
Although I suspect Apple will nix Flash on their Tablet so perhaps that is less of a worry.
I kind of get that Apple is fighting a two front war. They are going to either go all out, or they are going to have to accept one side temporarily. (Flash and Browsing Dominance)
 

crees!

macrumors 68000
Jun 14, 2003
1,922
26
MD/VA/DC
It's about time major print media caught up. Last thing I want to do against my will is to bail their failing corporates asses out with my money.
 

miketcool

macrumors 6502a
Jun 24, 2003
874
221
California
It's about time major print media caught up. Last thing I want to do against my will is to bail their failing corporates asses out with my money.
Don't worry, we're still bailing them out. You have to pay the bonuses first to make the execs happy. Then they right themselves. :D
 

Stately

macrumors 6502a
May 14, 2008
768
0
NYC
This is great. This is true innovation at it's finest. So much so that the big dogs feel the need to rearrange their whole system of how they do things. And the best part about it is the fact that it makes things better. It is all for the positive. Granted, they all wanna stay in the game, which is one reason for going with the flow. I say that because I know there will be some nay sayer somewhere reading this and then replying "do you really think they care about us?" So now that I got that out of the way, I say, It's true innovation by the pioneers of all industries converging and making life better by causing a beautiful progression. I think it's great. So for those who like to call people fanboys lol, I so admit that I am one and these are the reasons why. Man these are great times. Have a great day everybody. :D
 

AgingGeek

macrumors regular
May 21, 2007
104
0
Color me cynical after a quarter century in the software industry, but here's how this will end up:

Badly.

They will now spend a LOT of money paying a LOT of people from each organization to come up with a standard. "Strawmen" will be built, arguments will follow, the group will split up into factions, and politics will take over as they all position for control.

Then the schedules will slip.

Before they can even come up with a first draft, Apple will already have market share momentum on their new device. Because trust me, if Apple is as close as the rumors go, their format is already determined. And it was a format that was driven by the perfection vision of one guy at the top, not a committee of people who don't have any accountability to each other.

Sorry kids, that's the reality of the world we live in.
 

lilo777

macrumors 603
Nov 25, 2009
5,144
0
This news has nothing to do with Apple

Did you read the announcement? There is nothing in it about Apple. Why does everybody assume that this development if to "preempt" Apple? As if the publishers were not in trouble and did not need to come up with something to save their business. iPhone is not the most popular phone (or even smart phone to that matter) and Apple tablet does not even exist yet (whilst there are plenty of other tablets on the market) and yet Apple is what the publishers should be worried about? This world is not Apple-centric and never will be. Just move on.
 

JGowan

macrumors 68000
Jan 29, 2003
1,765
22
Mineola TX
I just thought I would make light of the fact that Apple is going ahead with a new device to bring about paid web content. While I agree with some publishers and writers, that free sources are undermining a lot of talented writing staffs; the paid content model is dead.
I don't agree with that at all. There's lots of magazines that I would subscribe to with a tablet model (from APPLE only) -- I like EW! and TIME, both weekly magazines that I've had subscriptions to and I always cancel them -- why? -- because they are always home (to share with the wife) and I don't have them and by the time I start to work on one, the next week's issue arrives. They pile up and eventually I have to go through them and throw the huge stack away because we haven't really read them and they're taking up too much room.

I cancel them -- and what do they do? Well I was offered the last go-around $12 for a year's subscription of Time! 52 weeks for $12! I couldn't pass it up and here we go again...

If I had them all the time and they never took up anymore room and as I would have them as I was here and there, could actually get through the whole magazine. Paid is not dead. If I had an Apple tablet, I would probably want a lot of magazines, provided they were high quality experiences. The Sports Illustrated thing shown here just a bit ago was amazing -- I want good content to enjoy reading with in this way.

A very big deal is the very real idea of have a way to save articles that I want to quickly be able to refer to in the future and to sort them by magazine. Such a great ability we'll have for sure in a table that could be out sometime in 2010!

The ability for taking notes -- also, big stuff. Or emailing certain info to a friend... excellent.

But the biggest thing is Keeping the Magazines. How awesome. Magazines are disposable many times for the simple reason that we just don't have room for years of subscriptions. This is such a game changer that I just can't hardly believe it.

And newspapers... this is amazing. I'm sure the SEARCH feature for finding relevant information that you need will be great! Or subscribing to a newspaper for a town you used to live in that's a thousand miles away, just to still feel connected. I would do this. I lived in some amazing cities.

How many times have I told someone about an article that I had seen sometime in the last 12 months and I race and sit there, thumbing through a dozen+ magazines, trying to find the info? A lot. Search is really going to be amazing.

Who keeps old magazines and newspapers? Not many. But... digital versions? I certainly will!

----

One thing --> Back content --> Certain magazines will probably not benefit from this, but I can see some magazines actually going through and making all their past issues available for download at a great discount! Comic Books, Mad Magazine and .... even... well certain magazine types I won't mention here, but... there will be a huge demand and market for content that most thought there would be no more revenue made from. That could and will add millions of dollars to everyone's bottom line alone. I am hoping big things for this whole venture.

Did you read the announcement? There is nothing in it about Apple. Why does everybody assume that this development if to "preempt" Apple? As if the publishers were not in trouble and did not need to come up with something to save their business. iPhone is not the most popular phone (or even smart phone to that matter) and Apple tablet does not even exist yet (whilst there are plenty of other tablets on the market) and yet Apple is what the publishers should be worried about? This world is not Apple-centric and never will be. Just move on.
F Off. This news DOES connect to Apple, if indeed we believe that Apple is going to bring a tablet to market,... and we do. YOU "just move on". To another website if this is the "constructive" way you're going to be.
 

miketcool

macrumors 6502a
Jun 24, 2003
874
221
California
I don't agree with that at all. There's lots of magazines that I would subscribe to with a tablet model (from APPLE only) -- I like EW! and TIME, both weekly magazines that I've had subscriptions to and I always cancel them -- why? -- because they are always home (to share with the wife) and I don't have them and by the time I start to work on one, the next week's issue arrives. They pile up and eventually I have to go through them and throw the huge stack away because we haven't really read them and they're taking up too much room.

I cancel them -- and what do they do? Well I was offered the last go-around $12 for a year's subscription of Time! 52 weeks for $12! I couldn't pass it up and here we go again...

If I had them all the time and they never took up anymore room and as I would have them as I was here and there, could actually get through the whole magazine. Paid is not dead. If I had an Apple tablet, I would probably want a lot of magazines, provided they were high quality experiences. The Sports Illustrated thing shown here just a bit ago was amazing -- I want good content to enjoy reading with in this way.

A very big deal is the very real idea of have a way to save articles that I want to quickly be able to refer to in the future and to sort them by magazine. Such a great ability we'll have for sure in a table that could be out sometime in 2010!

The ability for taking notes -- also, big stuff. Or emailing certain info to a friend... excellent.

But the biggest thing is Keeping the Magazines. How awesome. Magazines are disposable many times for the simple reason that we just don't have room for years of subscriptions. This is such a game changer that I just can't hardly believe it.

And newspapers... this is amazing. I'm sure the SEARCH feature for finding relevant information that you need will be great! Or subscribing to a newspaper for a town you used to live in that's a thousand miles away, just to still feel connected. I would do this. I lived in some amazing cities.

How many times have I told someone about an article that I had seen sometime in the last 12 months and I race and sit there, thumbing through a dozen+ magazines, trying to find the info? A lot. Search is really going to be amazing.

Who keeps old magazines and newspapers? Not many. But... digital versions? I certainly will!
I think your argument over why content should come to the tablet is different from my view, how successful a venture into resurrecting subscription sales is.

I am not saying that digital isn't the way to go. I am just saying that this is going to be a tough maneuver for Apple. If anyone can pull it off, it's is the mighty :apple: I just think if this encounters any signs of trouble, it will be a blow to Apple's untarnished look. The media is a crazy powerful entity.

I still think ad supported media is here to stay, and the next big thing isn't subscriptions (premium content, is still premium), but collaborative professional journalism...
 

TheSlush

macrumors 6502a
Mar 28, 2007
658
22
New York, NY
Did you read the announcement? There is nothing in it about Apple. Why does everybody assume that this development if to "preempt" Apple? As if the publishers were not in trouble and did not need to come up with something to save their business. iPhone is not the most popular phone (or even smart phone to that matter) and Apple tablet does not even exist yet (whilst there are plenty of other tablets on the market) and yet Apple is what the publishers should be worried about? This world is not Apple-centric and never will be. Just move on.
Hmm, how to respond to this. Somehow "LOL :rolleyes:" just doesn't quite say it.

Ask the music industry what their advice would be about about whether the publishing industry would do well to be as aware of, on top of, and concerned about Apple, its products, and its plans as possible.
 

slu

macrumors 68000
Sep 15, 2004
1,636
107
Buffalo
iTunes is a break-even venture for Apple, but it sells a boat load of iPods and iPhones! Same thing here.
It is common to hear this around here, but it is just not true. Apple does not disclose the profit it makes from iTunes, but I am sure they do quite well.

One estimate has iTunes at $570 million profit for 2007. And I sure with the growth of the app store and of the store in general, this number has gone up.

http://www.wired.com/listening_post/2008/03/apple-apparentl/

I know this is still low in comparison to hardware revenue. ~ 1/2 a billion dollars is not a figure to discount, which is often done around here.

I think this is a good move by publishers. They have been behind technology for so long, it is nice to see them try to get out in front of it for once.

I also think it is good for consumers that the Apple way did not become the de facto standard. If the content publishers set the standard, the consumer's choice of device should, in theory, be larger and potentially cheaper.
 
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