By Harry McCracken | Monday, June 14, 2010 at 10:29 am
This is intriguing: Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. has bought Skiff, a spinoff from the Hearst Corporation that’s behind a still-unreleased platform for digital magazines and newspapers. I saw Skiff’s e-reader at CES in January and thought it was a pretty slick Kindle rival. Even then, I found Skiff as a platform more interesting than Skiff as a device. And that was before we entered the Technicolor world of the iPad, which makes even the nicest monochrome E-Ink devices look profoundly retro–especially for magazines, which cry out for color.
There hasn’t been much in the way of Skiff news since CES, except for the announcement of a partnership to put its reader software on Samsung phones–for instance, the release date and price of the Skiff gadget remain unknown. I still think that open standards like HTML5 will eventually eliminate the need for proprietary technologies designed to make digital reading materials look pretty and approachable. In the short term, though, Skiff has an opportunity–there’s still a need for what it’s doing. Here’s hoping that it’s hard at work on software for the iPad, Android tablets, and Windows–and that it’s the whole ecosystem rather than the E-Ink reader that got News Corp. excited.