Digital Gutenberg?

Condé Nast, Hearst, Meredith, News Corporation and Time, Inc. announced on December 8, 2009 that they have entered into an independent venture to develop open standards for a new digital storefront and related technology.

Development goals:

  • To create a highly featured common reading application capable of rendering the distinctive look and feel of each publication.
  • To create a robust publishing platform optimized for multiple devices, operating systems and screen sizes.
  • To create a consumer storefront offering an extensive selection of reading options.
  • To create a rich array of innovative advertising opportunities.

These are some grand goals. To create a mock-up software application and make it into a video is one thing (e.g. Wired’s iTablet App) but to actually develop a “common reading application” will take a miracle. Take a look at the five companies. Are they software companies? Have they developed any compelling software applications? Not only that, the software will need to recognize the unique features of each of the five companies’ publication and be able to render it. I’m not sure they will be able to pull this off.

Adobe PDF. Zinio. I wonder if these companies have heard of PDF or Zinio, two very compelling publishing platforms. I’m sure there are others. I don’t quite know what Zinio uses to generate its magazine formats but the end results are hyperlinked digital magazines that are a joy to read. Why reinvent the wheel? And to reinvent a wheel that is compatible with notebook PCs, desktops, netbooks, smartphones, etc. for Windows, Linux, OS X, etc. will be daunting to say the least, probably impossible for these guys. Have these five companies thought this through? Probably not. Did they rush to announce this deal? Probably. This independent venture smells of a defensive move to ward off Amazon and/or Apple. I do not know exactly what Apple has in store but the tablet the company is rumored to be working on will most likely be better than what these book publishers will be able to develop.

Amazon. B&N.com. Zinio. Yes, Zinio is here too because it does a very good job of selling and distributing digital magazine content. The five companies will go head-to-head with Amazon and B&N.com? Oh boy. Good luck. And don’t count out Google. If I was Google, I would tender an offer to purchase Zinio. Can you imagine the innovative advertising opportunities? Source: The Business Insider