Google Play News section coming soon: another nail in the coffin for newspapers?

March 16, 2013
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Are newspapers obsolete?

Are newspapers obsolete? Image credit: Shutterstock

Newspapers are so 20th century, or at least this is what trends are showing us. Media companies around the globe are struggling to maintain their readership, amid the rise of online media outlets (such as Android Authority). With Time Warner considering the sale of its Time Magazine assets, it’s probably a sign that the global media landscape is getting ready to scuttle the old paper-based business in favor for a purely online one.

This is one reason why the introduction of subscription-based services for mobile devices — tablets and smartphones — and desktop/notebook computers is probably the next best thing that publishers are exploring. With Apple running its own Newsstand service and both Amazon and Barnes & Noble running their own Android-based subscription services, you’d think they have everyone covered. But new code on an upcoming Google Play release uncovered by Android Police suggests that Google might be planning to implement subscriptions soon.

“Google Play News” items come in “issues” and “subscriptions,” which clearly suggests that the Android platform might soon have a native subscription-based service for content. The web version’s CSS even includes a new color-coding scheme for content: blue for books, violet for magazines and yellow for newspapers, and so forth.

The code indicates that users will be able to purchase either an individual issue or make recurring payments for a regular subscription. The obvious question at this point for publishers and content developers would be their revenue share. Apple takes a 30% cut off subscriptions made from Newsstand, for instance. No pricing details are available at this time, although we can perhaps liken it to the Google Play Magazines model.

Perhaps we can expect Google to push newspaper subscriptions in upcoming Google Play releases. You’re likely accessing your news through apps like Flipboard, Currents, Pulse and the like. Would a native subscription-based app offer better access to content?

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