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Hearst Teams up with Sprint to Launch 3G 'Skiff' E-Reader Service

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Hearst Teams up with Sprint to Launch 3G 'Skiff' E-Reader Service
December 07, 2009
By Marisa Torrieri, TMCnet Editor


While digital media and smartphones exploded in 2010, magazines and newspapers took a huge hit, and a number of major print publications.
But at least one megaforce in the print-media world has decided to fight back by embracing the digital movement.
Hearst Corp. – the publisher of Harper’s Bazaar and Cosmopolitan magazines and newspapers including San Francisco Chronicle – on Friday announced plans to launch Skiff, a new branch of Hearst and eponymous e-reader service will put print publications onto electronic readers and digital devices.

Hearst said that Skiff will deliver enhanced content and experiences to dedicated e-readers, as well as multipurpose devices such as smartphones and netbooks. The Skiff service and digital store will feature a selection of newspapers, books and magazines. But it’s unclear whether you’ll be able to download Conde Nast’s Vogue, or other popular non-Hearst titles, via Skiff. (A representative for Hearst had no information on partnerships with other publishing houses).
On the plus side, Hearst said consumers will be able to buy digital publications that have better, high-resolution graphics and look more like their print counterparts, with advertising.
Hearst said it believes these capabilities will allow more newspaper and magazine publishers to successfully migrate their premium content to the fast-growing e-reading channel, while preserving the key design qualities that help publications differentiate themselves and attract subscribers and advertisers.
“Skiff’s goal is to connect publishers and marketers with consumers,” said Gilbert Fuchsberg, president of Skiff, which has offices in both New York City and Palo Alto (News - Alert), Calif. “We will accomplish this by delivering engaging reading experiences that consumers will value and a business model that respects publishers’ needs.”
Kenneth A. Bronfin, president of Hearst Interactive Media, said Skiff will offer publishers a way to participate across the full value chain, from shaping publication design to selling advertising to maintaining subscriber relationships, so that they can better control their destiny as e-reading expands.
U.S. carrier Sprint (News - Alert) and Skiff signed a multi-year agreement to provide 3G connectivity for Skiff’s dedicated e-reading devices in the United States. Plans are underway to have Skiff readers available for purchase in more than 1,000 Sprint retail locations across the U.S., as well as online at Additional distribution channels will be announced next year.
The Skiff service includes what Hearst calls an “innovative advertising system” that will combine the impact and engagement of print with the dynamic capabilities of digital. Skiff is collaborating with publishers, leading advertisers and agencies to establish appropriate standards, formats and metrics for e-reading, and to validate them through consumer research. 
To monitoring subscriber numbers and other analytics, Skiff is partnering with magazine circulation monitoring service Nielsen and comScore (News - Alert), a spokeswoman told TMCnet.
By signing up Sprint as its wireless delivery partner, Hearst may help to bring the struggling third-place carrier back into the e-reader game, noted IDG News Service reporter Stephen Lawson. Sprint was’s (News - Alert) original partner on the Kindle, delivering books and periodicals to the devices through an innovative system in which the cost of connectivity was built into the price of the content.

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