Flipboard, Next Issue Move Forward But Questions Remain
The two digital services offer little for smaller publishers at this point.
Flipboard, the "social magazine" and iPad app that creates digital magazines out of shared links, today announced a trial with eight different media brands including Bon Appetit, ABC News, All Things Digital, Lonely Planet, SB Nation, San Francisco Chronicle, Uncrate and the Washington Post.
Flipboard Pages is an HTML-5 based framework that converts Web content into full-page, paginated "reading experience" when the consumer browses content with Flipboard. Whenever content from one of the media partners is shared on Facebook or Twitter, the Flipboard user double-taps the excerpt to generate a digital magazine.
The trials is also seen as a test of Flipboard’s revenue model, which serves up advertising around the publisher’s content within the Flipboard app and shares that revenue with the publisher.
While advertisers have no control over the placement of their ads, they do get data and customer feedback from Flipbook, which has been criticized for aggregating content without permission and removing its context and related advertising.
Next Issue Moves Forward On Newsstand, But Remains Android-Only
Meanwhile, Next Issue Media, the digital publishing consortium including some of the industry’s biggest players, which has previously said it will be focused on serving Android apps rather than Apple, tells Mediaweek it’s moving ahead with its first quarter launch, but will focus on the print and digital versions of its five founding members (Conde Nast, Hearst, Meredith, News Corp. and Time Inc.)
Next Issue Media lays out plans for a first-quarter launch but says it remains compatible with Android-devices only, not Apple. Next Issue will sell print and digital titles for charter companies (Conde Nast, Hearst, Meredith, News Corp., and Time Inc (according to NIM, represents 80 percent of subscription volume in U.S.)
Publishers are hungry for an Apple-alternative due to Apple’s unwillingness to share customer information and its seemingly arbitrary rejection of apps and app strategies, such as Sports Illustrated’s plan to sell subscriptions (the problems also extend to magazine apps that are already approved–a WWD report says The New Yorker’s Dec. 6 issue was "held hostage" by Apple).
However, the fact remains that the iPad is currently the dominant tablet device for magazine content and while Next Issue president and CEO Morgan Guenther tells Mediaweek the magazines featured in its launch represent "80 percent of subscription volume in the U.S." and it plans to add other publishers in the future, there are no options for smaller publishers at this point.
Next Issue has made strides by establishing a "Silicon Valley dream team" but it doesn’t appear to have as yet figured out how to deliver a completely publisher or consumer-friendly product yet. "I didn’t get a good sense of where they were going or how this could eventually work for us," one enthusiast publisher told FOLIO: in response to Guenther’s presentation at MPA’s American Magazine Conference in October.