Yahoo announced today on a conference call that it’s getting into the digital newstand business on tablets with Livestand.
“Tablets are great for a laid back experience, but most magazine content remains trapped online,” Yahoo chief product officer Blake Irving said on the call. “But consumers don’t want a digitized. They want a do-over. They want rich media, they want connections beyond just commenting.”
He went on to say that it’s tough for publishers to take advantage of tablets while managing the cost. He also describes most content for tablets as “PDFs with some video”, which is a “shallow and unrewarding experience” for consumers.
With LiveStand, publishers will be able to easily deliver personalized content to consumers. Basically, it sounds like it’s Yahoo’s take on the popular iPad magazine app FlipBoard. Eventually Livestand will make its way to smartphones as well.
“Don’t think of this as an app, think of this as a platform,” Yahoo’s Irv Henderson said on the call.
The Livestand iPad app features typical news categories, and Yahoo says it will be starting out mostly by featuring its own content offerings like Yahoo Finance, and Flickr. Surfer magazine is one partner the company already has on board, and it plans to offer other magazine subscriptions as well. Henderson said it would also be possible for “two guys in a garage” to put together their own magazine and publish it with Livestand.
Yahoo faces some mean competition in the digital newstand business. Google is reportedly trying to court publishers for its Android newstand, and Apple is bringing news subscription capabilities to the iTunes store, starting with News Corp’s The Daily iPad newspaper. We can expect entrenched e-reader companies like Amazon and Barnes & Noble to ramp up their offerings as well.
Yahoo says that Livestand will launch some time in the first half of the year. It’s aiming to launch on Apple devices first, but the company is also looking at Android 3.0, which is built specifically with tablets in mind.