Next Issue Media's Guenther: 'We’re a game-changer'
Details may still be lacking, but there’s no shortage of hype emanating from Next Issue Media and its president and CEO, Morgan Guenther.
“We’re a game-changer,” Guenther told attendees at the ad:tech conference in New York on Wednesday. “We deliver digital content that delights the consumer, supports high-value advertising, and is available across the universe of connected, high-resolution, touch-screen devices.”
Don’t let the present tense fool you: The company’s digital storefront for tablet devices is not due until 2011.
At ad:tech – the latest stop in his barnstorming tour to spread the NIM gospel – Guenther admitted that most people still don’t know what Next Issue Media is. Guenther, a former TiVo executive who was named CEO in June, did offer a few more details on the company’s plans.
The first phase of the digital storefront will focus on tablet devices, featuring publications from NIM’s five founding publishers: Conde Nast, Hearst, Meredith, News Corp. and Time Inc. These publishers bring a sizeable audience to the tablet table: 120-130 million subscribers and about 300 million total readers.
Phase 2 will add libraries for smart phones, netbooks and other high-resolution devices. Guenther suggested that smartphone growth – about 500 million to 600 million smart phones will ship in the next couple of years – is robust enough to potentially create a market of its own for publisher content.
Phase 3 will add international distribution and bring in new publishers beyond the startup’s five initial backers.
“This will happen with alacrity,” he said, ignoring the irony of the comment given the company’s slow start. “This is not a multiyear project.”
The digital storefront will have four key characteristics:
- Support for multiple platforms: Apple, Google and Microsoft will all be supported out of the gate. With what he estimated were 30-35 new tablet devices in the pipeline, Guenther is expecting a mass market for tablet devices to develop quickly, with prices points as low as $99.
- Single authentication: Users will be able to access purchased content from any device they own.
- Premium positioning: The storefront is all about discovery. “You will not be app number 375,000 in the App Store,” he said. “Discoverability will be guaranteed.”
- Owned or shared access to customer data – a subtle dig at Apple’s resistance to share customer data with app publishers.
Next Issue Media is also developing a scalable workflow platform for creating highly interactive publications, “not replicas or PDFs” of existing magazines, Guenther said. He intimated that HTML5 will play a key role in the platform, making another dig at Apple by stressing the need for “more open” standards than those currently available to app developers.
Guenther is right about one thing: The need for speed. While the tablet market remains in its formative stages, it has evolved significantly since Next Issue Media was founded almost a year ago. Apple and Google’s app stores are established and growing rapidly, and technology vendors such as Adobe have announced workflow platforms similar to NIM’s for creating and delivering digital magazines on tablet devices. It will be interesting to see if NIM’s decision to push forward with its own storefront and workflow tools muddies the market instead of defining it.