Friday, February 27, 2009

Hearst Building A Kindle For Magazines

Sure print media is declining as consumers prefer multimedia functionality. And Hearst has built a tremendous variety of content that can and must adapt to new technologies. Production of print content as well as its distribution is a labor intensive, expensive cost line on the budget and transitioning to electronic distribution can be very cost effective. Per Fortune, "According to industry insiders, Hearst, which publishes magazines ranging from Cosmopolitan to Esquire and newspapers including the financially imperiled San Francisco Chronicle, has developed a wireless e-reader with a large-format screen suited to the reading and advertising requirements of newspapers and magazines. The device and underlying technology, which other publishers will be allowed to adapt, is likely to debut this year."

For me, I don't think that Hearst should move away from its core competencies and become a manufacturer of an e-reader. And making a product that merely duplicates the Kindle does not seem the way to go. Yes a bigger screen would make sense, but can Hearst build it at a price point that would cause consumers to take notice. And a black and white e-reader is not how glossy magazines are meant to be viewed. Readers need to be in full color.

Hearst should instead partner with either Sony, who could use some help competing with the Kindle, or with Apple, who definitely understands what a product needs to do to gain market share. Heck, its an iPod on steroids! Or simply remain neutral and allow subscriptions regardless of the reader the consumer chooses to use. For content creators like Hearst, that is perhaps the best solution of them all.