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.
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 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.,
Cond??Â« 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 iPhones 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 Kindle
e-readers on Kindle applications for Android devices. Barnes & Noble has
started selling digital magazines and newspapers for its 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 7-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 that the
last month, with 3 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. It had been
relegated to sidebar status on Google News.
Launched in September 2009, Fast Flip is designed to make the 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 Tab has been the most high-profile Android
machine of its kind to date, Motorola, Toshiba and others are expected to deliver
Android tablets next year.