Next Issue Media Pits Android Against Apple For Digital Storefront

Next Issue Media on E-Readers, iPad, iPhone

Next Issue Media, the print media JV that’s working a digital newsstand, will finally launch its online store for magazines and newspapers on Google’s Android Marketplace early next year. What about Apple’s App Store? Don’t hold your breath. CEO Morgan Guenther tells MediaMemo that even though the operation faces no technical issues with the iPad maker and is “ready to support Apple,” it’s simply decided to go with Android first.

Although Guenther calls Android “important tablet platform, and a very important platform for smartphones,” the Google (NSDQ: GOOG) OS-powered Samsung Galaxy tablet — Google’s first direct challenge to the iPad — won’t even be in U.S. stores until next week.

The “importance” in choosing Android over Apple (NSDQ: AAPL) is not about which system can reach the most readers. What Guenther seems to mean, though he doesn’t appear to be spelling it out directly, is that publishers, especially ones who are backing Next Issue, including Condé Nast, Hearst, Meredith (NYSE: MDP), News Corporation (NSDQ: NWS) and Time Inc. (NYSE: TWX), feel that Apple holds too many cards in the sales relationship.

While the publishers are publicly grateful to Apple for giving it the chance to create truly digital magazines, as well as presenting a second chance to charge readers for access to their publications unlike the still mostly-free web, they bristle at Apple’s tight control of reader information. For now, most publishers selling digital replicas of their content through Apple’s system can’t even sell direct subscriptions to their readers.

Instead, the publishers expect more control from selling their titles through Android. Since everyone is fond of saying these are “early days” — after all, the iPad has only been available for about 6 months — Next Issue hopes to find some measure of success with Android and thereby use it to pressure Apple into sharing readers’ purchasing info with them.

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