Music and movie flatrates are starting to become a common service on today's Internet. All share a system that provide access to a large database of titles for a flat monthly fee. And while they are already pretty good, especially in the music sector, there is still room for improvement, as there is not a single service available that is not missing one or the other artist.
If things work that well in those sectors, why not move on to other niches. That's probably the core reason why the Next Issue service launched in first place. Like most services of its kind, it is showing great promise and facing issues at the same time.
The magazine flatrate is currently offered in two flavors. First as unlimited basic, a package that is providing access to magazines for $9.99 per month that is covering the bulk of the magazines available, and then unlimited premium which costs $5 more per month, adding a handful of magazines to the subscription. Which magazines are included?
A total of 32 magazines, with the promise to raise the magazine count to 75 until the end of the year. The price is right, especially if you consider that a single issue in the Next Issue online shop can set you back as much as $4.99. If you read at least three issues per month, you could already be even expense-wise.
Even better, back issues are included in the subscription but only from 1. January 2012 on.
So far so good, now on to the issues.
By far the biggest limitation right now is the limit to Android Honeycomb+ tablets, and the exclusion of other tablets. An iOS version seems to be in the making though, but a release date at the time of writing is not known.
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A magazine flatrate makes sense, especially if the monthly subscription price is right. This could be a revenue model to go forward with, considering that this adds another - legal - offer to the tablet that will certainly appeal to a tech savvy crowd. Some will have issues with the way the magazines are distributed to the user, as it means less control for the user, and more for the publisher. While it is possible to download magazines for offline access, it is not clear right now if access remains once the subscription runs out.
I personally think that this is another step that magazine publishers make to enter the digital age. The model needs some refining, but that will sort itself out in the coming years.
What's your take on this? Would you subscribe to a magazine flatrate?
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Ghacks is a technology news blog that was founded in 2005 by Martin Brinkmann. It has since then become one of the most popular tech news sites on the Internet with five authors and regular contributions from freelance writers.