Report: Google woos publishers to its digital newsstand

Google is attempting to get support from publishers of magazines and newspapers for a digital newsstand targeted at users of smartphones and tablets running the Android operating system, according to a report in The Wall Street Journal.

The newsstand to be operated by Google will include apps from media companies, offering versions of their publications for these devices, the report said citing people familiar with the matter.

The venture will pit Google against a number of companies that are offering digital versions of publications, including through its Kindle Store and Apple with its iTunes store.

Google is already competing with these companies with its launch in December of the Google eBookstore. Its books are compatible with a variety of devices including the Nook from Barnes & Noble, the Sony Reader, and the iPad, iPhone, and iPod touch from Apple, and are also compatible with a web-based reader, Google said in December. In line with Google' strategy, the newsstand may also support a variety of readers besides Android.

However, the details of the newsstand venture and its timing are vague, and it may not materialize, the report said, quoting media executives who have talked to Google.

A Google spokesman in India said there was nothing specific to share on the issue.

"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," Google told the Wall Street Journal.

Among the range of publishers with whom Google has discussed its plans are Time Warner's Time Inc. unit, Condé Nast and Hearst Corp., according to people familiar with the matter, the newspaper said. The three publishers declined to comment on any talks, it added.

Google has told publishers it would take a lesser cut on sales than competitor Apple takes on sales through iTunes, according to the report. The company has also proposed giving publishers certain personal data about app buyers to help with marketing related products or services, the report added.

Apple is planning changes in iTunes to address publishers' frustrations with the online store, including sharing customer information with publishers, the report said. Subscribers would, however, have to agree to share the information, which makes many publishers unhappy as they do not expect many subscribers will opt to share information, the report added.

Apple was not immediately available to comment on the news report.

John Ribeiro covers outsourcing and general technology breaking news from India for The IDG News Service. Follow John on Twitter at @Johnribeiro. John's e-mail address is

Copyright © 2011 IDG Communications, Inc.

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