Thursday, April 28, 2005

Inbox Report: Zinio Launches Browse Before you Buy Feature

My inbox had an announcement from Zinio promoting browsable editions of some of their major magazines as an incentive to purchase. Previews are now available at the Zinio site via a very light and fast browser plugin that emulates most of the functionality of the current PC-based browser for downloaded full editions of magazines - including the ability to forward an issue to someone. Zinio is trying hard to make paper-formatted content work online, and while its features and performance have improved notably over the past year, it's still a challenge to read these online mags without a pretty hefty monitor. Kind of limits it on airplanes with my portable, though I've made do and enjoyed the experience pretty well. With is rich media capabilities the Zinio reader has additional tricks that are largely unexploited at this time and that will compete with aggressive Flash content development for the attention of advertisers and publishers. At the same time this seems to be the year when the universal "aha" has lit up in the minds of publishers that online content is more of an opportunity than a threat, leaving "safe" electronic platforms such as Zinio competing for attention with general Web and wireless delivery capabilities. There are still very interesting opportunities for combining paper-formatted delivery of content with online capabilities and the Zinio system has a lot of investment behind it to make it a viable platform, but there's still a lot of work to do to make the content going into user's Zinio downloads a unique and worthwhile experience differentiated from both browser delivery and traditional paper publications.
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