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Google’s Android newsstand to rival iTunes Store, says report

Jan 4, 2011 — by LinuxDevices Staff — from the LinuxDevices Archive — views

Google is allegedly mulling a periodical publication push for Android smartphones and tablets to challenge Apple's iTunes store for its iPad magazine and newspaper apps. The planned digital newsstand for Android, which follows up on Google's recently announced Google eBookstore, will offer more favorable terms to publishers than does Apple, says an industry report.

Eyeing Apple's digital content strategy, Google is making a stronger push for getting major publications onto smartphones and tablet computers based on the Android operating system. The search engine giant is courting publishers to build versions of their publications tailored for Android mobile gadgets for a new "Google-operated digital newsstand," according to the Wall Street Journal.

Google has broached its plan, which would include taking a smaller cut than the 30 percent Apple commands for applications sales on iTunes, with Time Inc., Condé Nast and Hearst Corp., the Journal said. Google has also suggested giving publishers personal data about application buyers, a move that, if true, is sure to give users leery of targeted advertising pause before subscribing.

Google declined to confirm the plans but didn't deny them either. The company said in a statement: "We've consistently said we're talking with publishers about ways we can work together, including whether we can help them with technology for subscription services. We have nothing specific to announce at this time."

Apple has done quite well by hawking digital magazines and newspapers tailored for consumption on its popular iPad tablet computer and iPhone through its iTunes store. The Wall Street Journal iPad application, for example, sells for $3.99 per week.

Even as Google's newsstand plans remain a glimmer in the company's eye, Apple's success has triggered moves from digital-content rivals. Amazon.com began allowing customers to read periodicals for its still hot-selling Kindle e-readers on Kindle applications for Android. Barnes & Noble has started selling digital magazines and newspapers for its equally hot-selling Nook Color e-reader.

There is a legitimate need for a digital newsstand for Android devices, where perusing daily and weekly content has been a chore. That's true even on the seven-inch-screen Samsung Galaxy Tab tablet and the Motorola Droid X and HTC Evo 4G smartphones, which feature 4.3-inch screens for better media consumption.

The prospect of a Google Android newsstand is intriguing for other reasons. For one, it provides a periodical complement to the Google eBookstore, which the company launched last month, offering three million free and paid book titles. Google eBooks competes with Apple's iBookstore and Amazon's Kindle store.

Additionally, a Google Android newsstand would enable Google to use its Fast Flip content experience more fully. The technology has been relegated to sidebar status on Google News. Launched in September 2009, Fast Flip is designed to make news web browsing more like the way readers turn the pages of print newspapers and magazines. Such a user interface would provide quite a nice reading experience on a tablet computer.

It's important for Google to address the Android tablet market, which is set for major growth in 2011. While the Galaxy Tab has been the most high-profile Android machine of its kind to date, Motorola, Toshiba and others are expected to deliver Android tablets this year.

Pew: Yes, Americans really do buy content online

In a related story, the Pew Research Internet & American Life Project released a study last week finding that 65 percent of U.S. Internet users have paid for online content. Some 18 percent had paid for online newspapers, magazines, articles or reports, says Pew.

When Internet users were asked by Pew whether they had ever "paid to access or to download any of the following types of online content," 33 said yes regarding digital music; 33 percent had paid for software; 21 percent had paid for applications for their mobile phone or tablet; and 19 percent had paid for games.

Meanwhile, 15 percent had paid for videos, movies or shows; 12 percent had paid for digital photos; and 11 percent had paid for members-only, premium content from a website that also offers material free (also known as a "freemium" business model).

Clint Boulton is a writer for our sister publication eWEEK.


This article was originally published on LinuxDevices.com and has been donated to the open source community by QuinStreet Inc. Please visit LinuxToday.com for up-to-date news and articles about Linux and open source.



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