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Publisher Hearst releases plans for digital magazine, newspaper service


Hearst Corp. plans to launch a service sometime in 2010 to sell digital subscriptions of magazines and newspapers intended to be viewed on e-readers, cell phones, and tablets.

Dubbed Skiff, Hearst Corp.'s planned digital periodical distribution portal is poised to rival Amazon's Kindle store at providing virtual newspapers and magazines to a variety of electronic devices. Hearst wants to create a full service system with a digital storefront along with a distribution back-end to allow publishers to easily deliver content.

The Wall Street Journal reports that Skiff has been in development for more than two years. Several other companies have signed on to be part of the service alongside Hearst's newspapers and magazines, but have not yet been named.

"The platforms and devices that other people are building are not really appropriate for newspapers and magazines," Kenneth A. Bronfin, president of Hearst Interactive Media reportedly said. "We are going to create an entity by publishers for publishers."

Skiff is also reportedly developing its own digital media device using Sprint Nextel Corp's wireless network to deliver content. Hearst said that it will offer subscriptions on some other e-readers as well as netbooks and smartphones - including Apple's iPhone.

Hearst competitor Time Inc. recently demoed an example of its digital magazine format that may compete with Skiff as a platform. It was reported several weeks ago that rumors had surfaced over the creation of plans for a multi-publisher iTunes-like digital store for selling magazines which seems would also be a competitor to this service.