The country's largest magazine publishers are gearing up to launch their own service for distributing digital publications on tablets, competing head-on with technology companies they've relied on to distribute their apps to date. More than a year after it was first announced, Next Issue Media, a joint-venture of five media companies, will launch in the next few months, Morgan Guenther, NIM's chief executive, said in an interview this week.
Mr. Guenther, the former president of TiVo Inc., said that NIM will likely go live with two titles from its four magazine owners: Time Inc., Condé Nast, Hearst Corp. and Meredith Corp. Mr. Guenther said it will have added a "full-lineup" of titles, including newspapers, from its owners by the summer. The offerings could include versions of newspapers sold by News Corp, the fifth member of the consortium.
NIM plan to focus on Android tablets first, and then expand to other devices.
This article brings up all sorts of interesting questions. Did you notice that Hearst and News Corp both own part of NIM? Well, last year Hearst sold Skiff (a digital magazine distribution platform) to News Corp. You gotta wonder why they did that. In fact, I have to wonder why Hearst started Skiff in the first place, given that it looks like a direct competitor to NIM.
I don't understand why NIM is still going forward. As I see it, magazine apps aren't worth the investment. All of the sales data has shown that you simply don't have enough return customers. This looks like an attempt to force an old business model on to a new medium. I understand the desire to stick with a business model that the big media companies are familiar with, but I don't see how it will work.
One last question: If digital magazines are such a good idea, then why isn't Zinio the major player in the market? Zinio has been around forever. They have the platform and the content and they do a nice amount of business, but their platform never really took off. What makes you think NIM will have better luck?