Wednesday, November 04, 2009 The iTunes of Magazines?

I've been going to monthly meetups for the NY Tech group for the past year and they are a lot of fun (I've mentioned one of two presentations shown there in the past year - Snooth is one). At these meetings start-up companies are given five minutes to present their company and answer questions from the audience. The response from the audience is generally positive; however, the audience are not afraid to challenge the presenters over some aspect of their offering and worse not ask any questions if the company has failed to inspire. Each monthly meeting has about 700 attendees.

Last night one of the presenting companies was which was started earlier this year by a group of ex-bankers. The company is attempting to aggregate magazine content into one experience so that a user can subscribe via one service to multiple content sources. The user then pays a low monthly payment to access the content. Currently, the product is in beta but the founders said the monthly fee could be as low as $1.99 for a base package with an extra fee per additional content source. If this reminds you of cable television then you're on the right track. At where I have been spending a lot of my time in the past two years we have a similar model however our monthly fee is $4.99 and we plan to offer a wider variety of content and only content that is unavailable free.

Maggwire is currently hosting aggregated content the is 'in the public domain' which is a troubling way of putting it but the company is in discussions with all the media companies about forming what amounts to distribution deals for their content. Unless the publishers restrict availability to their content - raise pay walls for example - Maggwire and other companies like this are unlikely to gain traction with subscribers. There is just too much free content and consumers will be unhappy if they find content they think they are paying for on the open web. The convenience of one location for content is a benefit that will only go so far.

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