The Digital Newsstand Needs to Recognize Its Real Rivals

[responsive]appskull[/responsive]The digital newsstand has failed to deliver on the lofty expectations of just a few years ago. We reported back in August that this revolution will not be tabletized, and we were proven right again during the iPhone 6 launch.

“Among the 15,000 words or so spoken by Apple execs and presenters at the event , the word ‘newsstand’ didn’t appear once, and neither did the words ‘news’, ‘magazine’, or even ‘publisher’. It’s a long way from the fanfare which greeted the Apple Newsstand’s launch in 2011, when the likes of Wired and the New York Times where presented as launch partners,” writes Jasper Jackson in The Media Briefing.

“The conclusion has to be that digital newsstands—certainly for magazines but also for newspapers—aren’t delivering enough sales for all but a few publications to build a business model on,” Jackson continues.

As he noted, digital editions are selling, but their numbers compared to print are tiny and their growth is slowing down, while digital ad revenue is in the dumps. And the state of the digital newsstands at both Apple and Google attest to the fact that this isn’t where the money is being made.

And publishers, Jackson is afraid, are looking in the wrong direction when it comes to understanding their competition.

Jackson quoted Rob Boynes of Dennis Publishing as saying that “many publishers still haven’t woken up to the fact their competitive set now goes well beyond the rival magazines and newspapers they used to sit alongside in physical newsstands. That…has led to apathy restricting how innovative most publishers have been prepared to be.”

Boynes is encouraging publishers to try a more micro approach to content,  “to create individual pieces of content with their own business models attached – be it advertising, micropayments or anything else that comes to mind—to be tested and refined and iterated,” writes Jackson.

He believes the decline of the digital newsstands will be good for publishers in the long run, forcing them to try new ways to deliver their content digitally and forget that they are going toe to toe with print—because they’re not.

“Without the false comfort of digital newsstands, publishers might be forced to stop holding their noses and plunge into the big scary world where they are competing with everyone on the web for time and money, not just the former rivals they used to face in your local newsagent.”