The May 9th issue of Fortune Magazine contains a terrific 22 page article by Adam Lashinsky called “Inside Apple.” As has been much reported, Fortune withheld the article from its website. To read Lashinsky’s article, you have to subscribe (magazine subscribers get free iPad access), haul yourself to a newsstand or pay 99 cents at Amazon.com’s Kindle store to buy it as a short eBook. Amazingly, the Lashinsky article hit #9 in the Kindle store, outselling full-length books.
At 22 pages — seven of which are illustrations or content light — 99 cents is tad steep, but is sure beats the full cover price of $4.99.
Personally, I was so interested in this strategy that I paid the $19.99 annual subscription fee and now can happily read Fortune on my iPad in full and, apparently, ad free.
This is a bright, sunny day for Time, Inc., publisher of Fortune, and its peers as the success of the Kindle strategy suggests that premium content can command premium prices even in digital environments.
But there are players missing from this game.
Did no B2B advertiser think to subsidize this 99 cent fee? I can imagine that non-Apple competitors and big B2B spenders like Prudential, Staples, FedEx and Monster could have benefited by adopting a Hulu-like-strategy with Amazon and Fortune: “you can pay 99 cents and get this article ad-free, or you can pay 49 cents and get a version sponsored by…”
Surely Verizon, Apple’s new partner in iPhone love and a huge B2B spender, could have used the energy surrounding this article and the general fascination with Apple to accelerate interest in their version of the iPhone. Verizon might have sent an email to its subscribers saying, “read this best-selling article, on us!”
FedEx might have worked with Amazon for a separate, sponsored edition of the article with a limit of the first 1,000 or 10,000 people to come.
Did nobody think of this? Would Amazon decline to create sponsored editions? Would Time, Inc. decline because it wants to retrain its readership and potential readership into the practice of paying good money for good content?
I’m fascinated both by what’s in the Fortune strategy and what’s missing.