Sunday, March 17, 2013

Do You Love Reading?

When I had my paper subscription of the Economist in Ramallah, that weekly magazine would arrive with an approximate week of delay, or more, to my PO Box. Not great if you want to be up-to-date with news, so I switched to the online subscription, which would conveniently and automatically download to my Samsung phone, so that I could read it at home on the sofa on the same day it comes fresh from the printing press, or listen to the audio version while stuck in traffic of qalandia checkpoint.

Some publishers like the Economist develop their own iPhone and Android apps, while many magazines are available through a digital newsstand online shop like Zinio, Magzter, Pocketmags, Google Play Magazines or Amazon Kindle. But what about Arabic language? After an initial check, I found only a couple of individual news outlets like Al-Quds that have iPhone apps, but no digital news stand like Zinio that would offer a wider portfolio of magazines and daily and weekly papers in Arabic online.

Some examples of Palestinian newspapers and magazines

Ingredients for an Arabic Online Newsstand

So what do you need for such a business?

  • A network of Arabic publishers that are willing to sell their content on your platform. 
  • Some staff for managing relations with publishing houses
  • Arabic language software developers for iPhone/iPad and Android platform. 
  • Some IT staff that works on bringing all content in the right format, ideally automated, and in real time, to keep running costs low
  • A payment provider that works throughout the Arab world
  • A marketing campaign for your app once you are ready to grow

Your Customers

Readers: Of course you want to offer different models of paid subscriptions to your readers, the 12 Million Palestinians worldwide, and potentially the rest of the 300 Million Arab speakers.

Advertising: You could offer part of the content for free, with an advertising business model. Use connect to facebook feature to do well-targeted advertising.

Magazine Promotion: Some of the lesser known magazines may want to pay you money in exchange for promoting their content among the audience, once you have gained a large pool of users.

Value Added Features

Audio versions: As a value-added service, you could record audio versions of those newspapers and magazines. That is good not only for blind, but also commuters and other lazy people.

Different views: As most Arabic news outlets are affiliated with some political powers, your app could provide the added value of displaying a related article by a news outlet of the political opposition. (e.g. Fatah vs. Hamas)

Social news magazine: Copy the concept of the Android app called Flipboard

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