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WSJ: Google working on a ‘digital newstand’ for Android

Google is courting publishers in an attempt to stimulate interest in its Android operating system as a platform for news apps, according to a report in the Wall Street Journal. Google has reportedly discussed its visions for an Android “digital newstand” with executives from Time Warner, Conde Nast, and the Hearst Corporation.

Google is making the push towards a more standardized news option for its Android OS in an effort to keep the pace with news options appearing on Apple’s iOS devices. Old media giants and publishers have so far been most interested in the iPad as the potential savior of print magazines and newspapers that have been battered by the Internet’s rise. Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. is planning to launch a newspaper publication that will be exclusive to the iPad and Richard Branson’s Virgin recently began publishing a monthly lifestyle magazine designed specifically for the iPad.

Citing sources “familiar with the matter,” the report suggests that Google is willing to offer publishers a deal that would see them keeping more of the revenue generated by their apps than they currently do under terms offered by Apple through its App Store —  Apple takes normally takes a 30 percent cut from app sales though iTunes. To sweeten the deal even further, Google reportedly is also considering offering publishers personal data about Android app buyers to assist in marketing and ad revenue.

Details about Google’s “digital newstand” remain vague at best. But if the Internet giant does deliver on an Android news center, it will be entering a news app market that is far from established. Apple is reportedly finding it difficult to keep publishers happy, and has had to make concessions, such as offering up more customer data and more subscription options, to keep companies from jumping ship. Last week, a report by the Audit Bureau of Circulations suggested that iPad magazine sales have been declining, with some apps showing drops of over 20 pecent for single-issue sales.

We’ll have to wait and see if Google is capable of delivering a sustainable model that will allow publishers to turn a profit, while reliably delivering content that will hold consumers’ interest.