CNET  Makes the Jump from Screen to Print

[responsive]cnet-magazine[/responsive]CNET will appear in print beginning this week, sold on newsstands with a cover price of $5.99, and the media is having a good time with the irony of it all.

“A leading technology website, CNET, is expanding into a platform that its users praise as portable, accessible and affordable. And unlike tablets, smartphones or laptops, it is also good for squishing bugs,” writes Stuart Elliott in the New York Times.

That platform is print, and the content, which according to Elliott will be original rather than repurposed from the site, includes articles titled “The Ultimate Tech Gift Guide,” “Driving Reinvented: The 2014 Tesla Model S” and “Should You Wait for the Apple Watch — or Not?” The cover features a smiling LL Cool J looking hip as all get out.

Elliot notes that the move may come as a surprise to many. And as D. B. Hebbard in Talking New Media notes, “the reader comments on the CNET story about their new print magazine are amusing, to say the least. Or should we say that the web readers are not amused.”

“What CNET really seems to be doing, of course, is publishing a SIP (special interest publication) on a quarterly basis to attract advertising and fill a hole in the newsstands that are now missing magazines like Macworld, and others,” notes Hebbard. “According to the NYT, the magazine has attracted ads from AT&T, Ford, Gillette, and others.”

So why exactly would a technology brand want to make the bold decision to publish in print?

“The future for this brand is multiplatform,” said Jim Lanzone, president and chief executive of CBS Interactive [parent company of CNET], because “we know the audience wants to experience CNET in multiple ways.”

“One thing we saw was that the brand had a lot more potential than we thought it did,” Elliott quotes Lanzone as saying.

Elliott explains that the magazine, according to John Lisko of Saatchi & Saatchi (creators of Toyota’s full page ad for the issue), is “more focused on giving consumers a lifestyle” rather than appealing to the early adopters their website caters to. Instead it will appeal to “the people who want to understand how these technologies make their lives better,” Lisko continues.

This idea of broader appeal may irk those early adopters (Hebbard notes one online comment proclaiming that CNET had “jumped the shark”) but that’s exactly the leap to make when a brand hits the tipping point.

Sounds like a winning idea in our book.