Time's "Hulu for Magazines" Idea Is So, So Doomed

Magazines are basically fucked. They know this, and figure the only way they're going to survive is if they manage to successfully navigate the transition to digital. Time's grand plan? A "Hulu for magazines." Oh boy.

Here's how it'd work: There'd be a new company running a digital store for all of the publishers where people could buy and manage their magazine subscriptions that would be delivered on "any" device. Supposedly, Time Inc's gotten Conde Nast (publisher of Wired, Vanity Fair, etc.) and Hearst (Popular Mechanics, Esquire, etc.) ramped up about the idea as well, which would launch in 2010.


Great, except that it's not going to work. As Peter Kafka points out, they have to convince people to sign up for another service—not an easy feat if they're already tangled up with a Kindle or Apple. Especially if this new service will be just magazines, and not include newspapers. And there's no way Amazon or Apple will let the publishers tie a separate service into their devices, pissing in their pool. The whole point of the Kindle is that Amazon controls the delivery method, and that's likely how Apple's tablet will work—downloading magazines and newspapers and textbooks through iTunes, just like iPhone apps or iTunes music.

Which basically leaves the the publishers with a handful of generic readers they could get their goods on, meaning they're screwed. At this point it looks like all roads to ereaders people will actually buy to pass through Amazon or soon, Apple. Sorry magazine dudes: Give in, give up or get out. [All Things D]

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