Major Magazine Publisher Storefront Only So Much Vaporware

Last Updated Dec 9, 2009 9:26 AM EST

"We're really creating something that doesn't exist today" -- that quote, from Bob Sauerberg, group president of consumer marketing for Condé Nast, pretty much sums up the announcement that wasn't, in which five major magazine publishers said yesterday they would be creating a digital storefront to sell souped-up digital versions of their magazines. (If you think I'm talking about their Web sites, think again. Here's a link to what Time Inc., one of the consortium members, would create for Sports Illustrated.)

The plan, which has been widely leaked, is that the publishers, which also include Hearst, Meredith and News Corp. , will create an iTunes-like store in which to sell this merchandise. I've been skeptical when I've written about this in the past, because there's no evidence so far that there's a market for this content and the devices the content would appear on basically doesn't exist.

But I was hoping that when the official announcement came out, the publishers would be ready to tell us there's a bit more of a there there. Instead, having looked at several stories about the announcement, there's absolutely nothing new here, except for the naming of an interim managing director -- John Squires of Time Inc. -- and a board. Otherwise, this bally-hooed reinvention of the magazine industry's online model is vaporware, plain and simple.

Previous coverage of the magazine industry's digital storefront at BNET Media:
  • Catharine Taylor

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