Thursday, June 16, 2011

Magzter launches its own Zinio-like digital newsstand with iPad app; PDF editions of mostly Indian magazines

Proving that the only barrier to entry to the digital newsstand business is stocking the store, Magzter has launched its own newsstand with the release of its first iPad app.
The free app, Magzter - The Global Mobile Magazine Store, promises more than it can deliver due to its lack of a solid online presence, and its slim pickings of magazines, mostly Indian titles. The app is free to download, but unlike its more famous competitor, Zinio, the new service does not offer online reading, or its own smartphone app at this time.

Magzter has launched with 11 different categories of magazines, in which you will find 45 titles under those categories, but some of those titles are under multiple categories, meaning the total selection of magazines is less than that.

The real problem with these types of digital newsstands, of course, is that they offer PDF versions of the print titles – unless, of course, the publisher decides to enhance their replica editions with audio or video content, interactive features, etc. But publishers rarely dedicate any effort to doing this, do they? Instead, most publishers see these digital newsstand editions as simply another outlet for their titles, ease of conversion being the chief thing in their favor.
What Magzter has going for it is that it is a regional player and the fact that there is very little risk to the publisher involved in signing up to appear in yet another digital newsstand, as joining one of these digital newsstand agreements does not involve signing an exclusivity contract. But a publisher would want to make sure their branding and pricing strategies are not upset by a digital newsstand vendor severely discounting their products, or poorly representing them in the digital store.

That also means that the key to success for any company wishing to launch its own digital newsstand is pretty much sales (selling publishers, that is) and the reader interface (creating good reader apps and websites).

So while there may be only one Apple App Store, there could be many, many different digital newsstands launched, something to keep in mind when considering the merits of going in this direction versus native app development.