Hearst is taking eInk’s technology and coming up with a larger than 8.5″ by 11″ screen eInk magazine.
A Hearst executive said that Hearst has a “deep expertise” in eInk. I’d actually argue with that statement. What we do know is –
- Hearst Interactive Media are investors in the eInk company. Also, via Wired,
Hearst Interactive’s Bronfin already sits on the board of directors for E Ink, the company whose screens power both the Kindle and Sony Reader.
- They’ve probably been looking into making something based on eInk for a while, and finally decided on an eMagazine Reader.
- They intend to bring it out by end 2009.
- The extent of their actual experience creating eInk products is that they had featured eInk covers for the Esquire – [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iKS12PMdJ6w]
- The Hearst Corp’s Seattle PI newspaper is up for sale, and if it isn’t sold by March 10th will be closed down.
- The Hearst Corp’s San Francisco Chronicle is in trouble too.
- In 2000, Wired and some other magazines created the CueCat. Joel Spolsky’s thoughts on it are something Hearst should look at carefully.
It’s really difficult to create a good solid product when you are in a position of weakness like Hearst currently is. This is a very reactive, survivalist step, and I doubt they’ll be able to create a compelling product. There are, however, two really interesting points –
- They are creating something that intends to help advertisers too. Which is almost certainly a recipe for disaster –
The larger screen better approximates the reading experience of print periodicals, as well as giving advertisers the space and attention they require.
I’m sure that that’s what magazine audiences really want – an eMagazine reader optimized for advertising.
- Fortune has some more details on Hearst’s plans and some hint of what they think will help them against Kindle 2 –
What Hearst and its partners plan to do is sell the e-readers to publishers and to take a cut of the revenue derived from selling magazines and newspapers on these devices. The company will, however, leave it to the publishers to develop their own branding and payment models. “That’s something you will never see Amazon do,” someone familiar with the Hearst project said. “They aren’t going to give up control of the devices.”