Google said to be mulling digital newsstand

Internet giant is trying to raise support for a store that would sell access to newspaper and magazine content on Android-powered devices, according to a report in The Wall Street Journal.

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Steven Musil
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Think of it as an old-fashion circulation war in the digital age, substituting tablets for tabloids.

Google is trying to raise support from newspaper and magazine publishers for its own digital newsstand for Android-powered devices, according to a Wall Street Journal report, a venture that would ramp up its competition with similar efforts backed by Apple and Amazon.com. The digital newsstand would reportedly feature apps from publishers that would allow versions of their content to appear on devices running Google's mobile operating system, according to the report, which cited anonymous sources.

However, media executives said the details and timing remain vague and the venture might never materialize. It's also unknown how Google would address the presence of those partner publishers' content in its Google News section in order to add value to the e-newsstand.

Google representatives did not immediately return a request for comment.

The Web titan recently launched its Google eBookstore to peddle electronic versions of books, jumping into a hot market dominated by similar enterprises launched by Apple and Amazon. Competition between Apple's iTunes Store and Amazon's Kindle Store for mobile newshounds has been heating up. In an effort to secure its piece of the e-newsstand pie, Amazon recently announced plans to give newspaper and magazine publishers a greater share of the revenue it collects for periodicals sold through the Kindle Store. Meanwhile, Apple was rumored to be working with News Corp. to create a digital newspaper exclusively for iPads.

Google CEO Eric Schmidt has long had an eye on newspaper content. Even though his company's Google News has been publicly derided as a leech of the newspaper business, Schmidt told a group of newspaper editors last April that he believes newspapers can make money online.

"We have a business model problem; we don't have a news problem," Schmidt said at the time. "We're all in this together."

Google has reportedly told publishers that it would take a smaller cut of revenue than the 30 percent that Apple takes from iTunes sales.