Google Plans 'Digital Newsstand' for Android

Dennis Faas's picture

Google is once again preparing to battle Apple to win customers in the mobile gadget field. The search giant is reported to be working on a "digital newsstand": a central resource for users of devices running its Android system to get hold of newspapers and magazines.

The newsstand would aim to solve three problems with digital publishing on Android tablet devices. First, many titles are currently only available as web pages viewable through an ordinary browser, such as Google's Chrome. While that works, it can be quite unwieldy for users wanting to "browse" an entire issue rather than simply read a specific page.

Second, between website editions and dedicated tablet device "apps", there's an inconsistency between if and how users pay for content. Some titles require users to subscribe through a website, others involve buying an app once to cover a subscription, while some involve single issue purchases (as with a real newsstand).

Google Coming in Late

The final problem for Google is that it's relatively late to the tablet publishing market.

Most of those publishers who have produced special tablet editions have only done so on the iPad and don't yet think it worthwhile duplicating their work. And others have already had their attention taken up by reaching deals with Amazon to have their publications on the Kindle (where, in most cases, readers simply get a text-only edition, with each article treated as the chapter of a book).

Capturing Publishers Key to Selling eBook Tablets

The most interesting aspect of this latest Google-Apple battle is that, unlike with mobile hardware (particularly smartphones), it's not really users who are being targeted: the logic is that few people will decide which tablet device to buy simply because of the price and availability of electronic newspapers. Instead, the race is to sign deals with publishers to add their titles.

That's shown by rumors Google wants to undercut Apple when it comes to app sales for publishers. At the moment, Apple gets 30 per cent of all money collected through the iTunes app stores for purchases or subscription costs. It's also thought Google might offer user data to publishers, making it easier to market titles. (Source:

There may be obstacles to the project, though, most notably that at the moment many articles from newspapers are available on the Google News site. Google may come under pressure to remove such articles to avoid deterring people from taking out subscriptions to the relevant titles. (Source:

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