Jon Friedman’s Media Web: IPad and old media: a shotgun wedding

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By Jon Friedman, MarketWatch

NEW YORK (MarketWatch) — The magazine industry and the iPad are headed for a shotgun wedding.

And if old media thinks it will be holding the gun on Apple Inc.
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(AAPL
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, it had better realize that it’s shooting blanks. Consider the state of the magazine industry, the poster child for the old media.

At first blush, you’d think that publishers would be rushing toward Apple with open arms. The traditional media have largely failed to maximize the Internet over the years and are desperate to find new ways to reach the choice demographic that loves Apple’s products.

Perhaps the editors and publishers once figured that they could get their way because Apple chief Steve Jobs needed classy aggregated content for the iPad. If so, the magazine industry had its head in the sand. They need the iPad more than the iPad needs them.


Reuters

Apple Inc. CEO Steve Jobs speaks about the iPad.

So, this seeming marriage made in heaven of new and old media is getting off to an uninspiring start. As The Wall Street Journal noted on Monday, while an increasing number of magazines are edging toward permitting subscriptions on the iPad, “relations between the publishing industry and Apple remain icy.”
Read Wall Street Journal’s “More Magazines Try iPad.”


Don’t look for the iPad to offer consumers much of a break. The Economist, for instance, carries a price tag of $110 a year, and the New Yorker costs $4.99 an issue on the iPad. Magazine publishers fret that by playing ball with Apple, they’ll eventually lose control of the customer data that they need for related marketing programs. Bloomberg BusinessWeek this week began offering subscriptions to an iPad variation of its publication for $2.99 a month. Elle and Maxim are among what the Journal called “a small but growing number of magazines willing to sign despite industry-wide concerns about Apple’s reluctance to share customer data.”

It’s all about deciding which party will hold the whip hand in the negotiations. Welcome to the 21st century, where the old rules of content and distribution no longer apply.

News Corp.
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(NWS
18.06,
-0.28,
-1.53%)


  drew a line in the sand when it launched the Daily, an iPad-oriented news product billed as an opportunity for consumers to have the benefits of television and print in one package. (News Corp. is also the parent company of MarketWatch.)

Another Facebook ownership claim

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The magazine industry now knows it has to play ball with its counterparts in the Internet media world. The conventional wisdom is that fewer and fewer people in Madison Avenue’s choice 18-to-34-year-old demographic are reading newspapers and magazines any more.

Expect to see this struggle of wills between representatives of old and new media being played out again and again as newspapers, magazines, radio and television operations try to maximize the Web. To do so, Time Warner
/quotes/comstock/13*!twx/quotes/nls/twx
(TWX
35.45,
+0.30,
+0.85%)


, Walt Disney
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(DIS
41.63,
-0.26,
-0.62%)


, Viacom
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(VIA
53.98,
+0.06,
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 must make peace with Apple
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(AAPL
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+1.60,
+0.48%)


, Google
/quotes/comstock/15*!goog/quotes/nls/goog
(GOOG
570.61,
-6.76,
-1.17%)


 and the others.

There is no doubt that the iPad has tapped into the zeitgeist. It’s not merely a computer. It’s a pop culture phenomenon. IPad boasted sales of 15 million units after Apple unveiled the sensational innovation in 2010. It’s expected to more than double that volume this year.
Read Apple projected to keep tablet dominance.

“Apple presents the iPad as a digital newsstand and that’s fine — but Apple also wants to control everything,” griped a publisher whose magazines are not yet available on the iPad. “Right now, the problem is that Apple keeps the customer relationship. It’s a real problem for the magazine industry.”

The publishing executive laments that Apple has no incentive to give in to the whims of magazine publishers for now.

“I don’t think that magazine business is so huge for Apple,” the executive added. “I don’t think Apple is going to bend. The publications are going to come around, probably with some concessions from Apple. It’s likely that every publication will be sold on the iPad within two years. For the near terms, Apple will have such an insane percentage of the tablet market. It’s practically the only game in town.”

MEDIA WEB QUESTION OF THE DAY:
What do you think of the iPad so far?


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Jon Friedman is a senior columnist for MarketWatch in New York.



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