Google’s latest idea: The digital newsstand

Newsstands. In an era where newspapers and magazines were the best and only way to access your daily or weekly news, a newsstand on the corner of a busy city intersection was a staple.

Now, they’re largely ignored, and there are certainly fewer of them. That’s because, while print is still very much alive, more and more consumers are accessing news online, through smartphones, tablets, and laptops.

Enter Google’s latest idea: The digital newsstand. Quoth Reuetrs:

Google Inc has approached several magazine publishers about creating a digital newsstand, in a move that could open a new front in the Internet company’s rivalry with Apple Inc, according to a news report.

The digital newsstand would provide a way for media companies to sell versions of their publications designed for tablet PCs and smartphones based on Google’s Android operating system, according to a story in the Wall Street Journal on Sunday, citing anonymous sources. 

Google has discussed the venture with publishers including Time Warner Inc’s Time Inc unit, Condé Nast and Hearst Corp, and has told some publishers it would take a smaller cut of revenue than the 30 percent that Apple typically takes from iTunes sales, the report said.

The WSJ report also mentions that Apple is planning significant changes to its iTunes store, including but not limited to making it easier for publishers to sell subscriptions.

Google and Apple haven’t made any public announcements on their respective projects yet, but they’re definitely easy notions to believe. I’d say both ideas should be received well by consumers as more content shifts from print to digital, and in a time when phones are becoming smarter and tablets are exploding in popularity. Google already has its Google News, and this sounds like a natural evolution.