Earlier this week, multi-billion dollar media giant News Corp. announced the acquisition of Skiff, LLC, an e-reading platform developed by rival media company Hearst Corp. that can be used to deliver premium content to tablet PCs, smartphones, eBook readers and netbooks.
The Skiff platform is specifically designed to create visually appealing layouts for newspaper and magazine content, and handle high-resolution graphics and dynamic updates. It also protects brand identity and allows differentiation, which insiders claim is key to success in online publishing.
One element not part of the deal was the Skiff eReader device Hearst developed and showed off in January that was slated for release later this year. New Corp. only purchased the software platform and not the hardware, which is currently in limbo. The Skiff eBook reader featured a large 11.5-inch screen with a 1,600 x 1,200 resolution when it debuted at CES 2010, making it big enough to fit an entire newspaper font page. Sprint was to provide the data network, allowing users to wirelessly access newspapers, magazines and online content in addition to eBooks.
News Corp. also announced that it will be investing in Journalism Online LLC, an effort that provides a way for online-only publishers of to collect revenue from their online readers. The financial terms of both agreements were not disclosed.
News Corp’s announcement comes on the heels of promising projections for the tablet PC industry. Shipments of media tablets worldwide are expected to grow at a compound annual rate of 57.4%, rising 7.6 million units in 2010 to more than 46 million units in 2014, says market researcher International Data Corp. This compares with a forecast of 398 million portable PCs will be shipped worldwide in 2014.
“The availability of apps unique to media tablets and that differentiate the experience of using one compared with a PC or smartphone will be crucial for driving consumer demand,” says Susan Kevorkian, research program director for IDC. “As the category matures and more media tablet-optimized apps become available, IDC expects that media tablets will evolve beyond nice-to-have devices and become necessities for many consumers.”
Also this week, Sideways, a publisher of new media magazines and immersive content applications, launched an online magazine specifically developed to take advantage of Apples iPad platform. The online publication will combine text and high-quality visuals, as well as audio to create an immersive experience for the reader. Regular features will include music and games, a monthly travel column, unusual and innovative applications, and short literary works.
Sideways was created by Charles Stack and Eliza Wing. Stack started the first online bookstore in 1992 – Books.com – which was acquired by Barnes and Noble. Wing was formerly the CEO of Cleveland.com and editor at Rolling Stone, Books.com, and New York Woman. More information is available at www.sideways.com.