Dentsu takes magazines to the iPhone

05 August 2009

TOKYO: Dentsu has allied with 20 publishers, including Condé Nast and Asahi Shimbun, to make content from 30 magazines available to users of Apple's iPhone in Japan.

The agency's new "Magastore" will mean material from publications including Rolling Stone, Grazia, GQ and Harper's Bazaar is accessible through the popular smartphone.

In the first instance, articles will only be downloadable via an iPhone application, which costs ¥115 ($1.20; €0.84; £0.72), with consumers then paying between ¥115 and ¥600 to access the print title of their choice.

Ultimately, however, the system could be rolled out across handsets from a number of different manufacturers, as well as to PCs and games consoles.

While the initial emphasis will be on attempting to drive subscription revenues, advertising may also be introduced in time, although this will be partially dependent on the initial results of the initiative.

Blair Currie, North Asian ceo of Aegis Media, warned that "unless it can find a way to bring advertising to this model – and this has been difficult to do for many digital properties – we don't see there being a lot of margin in this for Dentsu. Without this margin, the model will not be sustainable."

Yahoo Japan is similarly said to be mulling over developing its X Brand portal – an online, advertiser-funded service with 7 million users that collates content from 23 magazines – for wireless devices.

NTT Communications, the telecoms firm, and Toppan Printing, the publishing company, also currently produce a free digest of magazine articles, called DoTV, which is sent directly to TV sets.

While these tools indicate that the Japanese print market is changing, Adrian Roche, of OgilvyOne Worldwide in Tokyo, argued "the trends are likely to stay relatively the same in the coming five years."

"Magazines have an important and compelling case for their existence in the market. However, we might see a shift in paradigms as sites like Magastore gain market share," he said.

Data sourced from Asia Media Journal; additional content by WARC staff