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Thursday, November 11, 2010, 08:30 am PT (11:30 am ET)

'Hulu for magazines' to debut on Android as publishers struggle with Apple

Publishers' continued frustration with Apple has apparently led a new joint venture from major magazines to debut on Google's Android platform in early 2011, rather than on iOS devices.

Next Issue Media, the magazine consortium that plans to open a digital storefront early next year, will launch on devices running Google's Android mobile operating system, CEO Morgan Guenther told MediaMemo. He added that his company is "ready to support Apple," and it's not technical limitations keeping the platform dubbed a "Hulu for magazines" from the iPad.

"Guenther wouldn't disclose other details about his launch, but you don't have to squint to read between the lines here," Peter Kafka wrote. "The takeaway is that Google has been flexible on the business issues that are important to the publishers that own his company. And that Apple's not there yet."

Publishers continue to struggle with Apple, as the company is not willing to allow publications to access users' personal information. However, the print business relies on demographic information to share data about readers with advertisers.

In September, it was rumored that Apple would introduce new subscription plans for content on the iPad, allowing customers to opt in and grant content providers the ability to share their personal information. Another report alleged that Apple is working on a standalone digital newsstand app that would be a new storefront, like the App Store or iBooks, that would be home to newspapers and magazines.

But for now, content providers who create applications for the iPad are restricted. For example, Kafka noted, when readers subscribe to Newsweek on the iPad, the publisher has "no idea who you are or how to reach you: Apple keeps all of the data, as well as 30 percent of every dollar."

Though Guenther didn't comment specifically, it was speculated that publishers with Next Issue Media are hoping that content sales on Android devices are strong enough to give them leverage in negotiations with Apple.

Publishers have struggled with Apple in bringing their content to the iPad since the device first launched in April. Initially, the Cupertino, Calif., company did not allow subscriptions to magazines through the App Store. But that impasse was broken in August, when People magazine became the first publication to offer subscribers free access to its iPad application.