"Hulu for magazines" set to launch in Android Market this week

Apple has closed deals with some of the biggest magazine publishers to sell subscriptions via iTunes. Now it’s Google’s turn, with five large publishers poised to enter the Android Market this week.

Dubbed “Hulu for Magazines,” the consortium known as Next Issue Media will offer app versions of seven popular magazines for Android users.

However, as the apps are in an “early preview” stage, only owners of the Samsung Galaxy Tab on the Verizon network will get a chance to preview the magazines.

Four out of the five main partners publisher magazines will become available this week including Esquire, Popular Mechanics, Fitness and Parents, The New Yorker, Fortune, and Time.

News Corps., the fifth partner in the consortium, doesn’t sell any print magazines and therefore will not be releasing any content.

Prices within the Android Market will be set by the publisher, which gives existing print subscribers access to free digital editions.

Currently, the publishers can’t offer new subscribers print and digital bundles, although CEO Morgan Guenther say they’re working on it. The CEO also mentioned a Netflix-style subscription model that would allow customers to swap titles in and out.

According to Guenther, magazine publishers receive around 70 percent of the profits when sold on iTunes, with the remainder going to device-makers and/or carriers. Within the Android Market, he says, magazine publishers will get “at least” that much.

The main difference between the Android and Apple versions of the app is that publishers will get “full access” to subscriber information within the Android Market. The Apple App Store on the other hand does not share subscriber information, although Apple vice president of Internet services Eddy Cue confirmed that around half of iPad users voluntarily share their personal details.

When Apple announced the terms of its in-app subscription service, many publishers and developers initially interested in the deal were upset because of Apple’s extreme control over the purchases.

For example, Cupertino keeps subscriber information private unless voluntarily shared by the user, requires in-app pricing to match deals and offers outside of iTunes, and bans links to out-of-app purchases.

Although free app versions of content from major publishers including Bloomberg, Conde Nast, Hearst and Time exist for iPad, publishers have yet to reach an agreement for digital subscriptions.

By the end of the year, Next Issue and Guenther plan to increase the amount of magazines to reach around 40 titles and expects to launch a newer version of the app for HP’s WebOS. 

(Via All Things D)