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Maghound Sniffing for Long Tail

In the 21st century economy there are long tails and then there are, well, shorter tails.

This "insight," if you can call it that, occurred to me today when, after four years of effort, Time Inc. announced today that its Netflix-like service for magazines, called Maghound, will finally launch in September.

Maghound, which Time calls the "the magazine lover's best friend," will allow consumers to choose titles from its stable of publishers for a mix-and-match "subscription" where they pay one monthly fee and have the ability to switch titles at any time.

So far, so good. I'm digging the business model (I think).

But, unless I'm missing something, we have a small problem here, and it has to do with the length of the magazine-lover's best-friend's tail. The company says it has 280 magazines signed up so far, and hopes to have 300 by launch.

Compare that with the tens of thousands of movie titles available via Netflix, the millions of books at Amazon, or the millions of downloads available at Rhapsody, and you'll see where this is headed.

Size matters. Of course, Maghound may somehow scale to include the tens of thousands of magazine titles worldwide, but if it fails to do this, I fear, we'll soon be sayin' that this dog don't hunt...

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