Magazine publishers eye Android, finally

Android may well be the most dominant smartphone operating system available. It may also be the OS with the coolest apps. However, there is one area in which Android users are sorely neglected: magazines.

Take a look around the web. Most of the best magazines already offer an iPad-based subscription to their publications. Apple has been quick to try and lock publishers and readers into its iTunes platform.

Android however, has been mostly ignored and users of the growing army of Android-based tablets have been unable to subscribe to magazines of their choice.

This may be about to change with Next Issue Media teaming up with some publishing heavyweights to offer iTunes-like magazine subscriptions. The plan is to create a digital news-stand for Android-based tablets and offer single issue sales as well as subscriptions to some of the world’s best known magazines.

Next Issue Media has already signed up a joint venture preview programme which includes publishers such as Time, Hearst, Conde Nast, Meredith and News Corp.

For now the service will only be available to selected Samsung Galaxy Tab users as the project is in testing.

The service will allow readers to subscribe to the likes of Time, the New Yorker, Fitness, Esquire and popular Mechanics. Rupert Murdoch’s ‘The Daily’, which is currently only available for iPad, will likely also be available in the near future through the Next Issue Media news-stand.

According to Next Issue Media CEO Morgan Guenther, the service will eventually expand beyond Samsung tablets to include WebOS-powered devices. WebOS was recently acquired by HP as part of its purchase of Palm Computing and the company has said it will look to put WebOS onto all of its devices in near future.

Next Issue’s primary drawcard is that it gives publishers greater access to and control over the sales of their publications. Unlike in Apple’s App Store, Next Issue publishers will be able set their own prices for publications, without limitations. Next Issue publishers will also have full access to subscribers’ details, including credit card details. Publishers using Apple’s App Store are not guaranteed this information.

Although the current preview release is very limited, it bodes well for the future of of magazines on Android and also promises to limit Apple’s potential stranglehold over this emerging sector.

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Magazine publishers eye Android, finally