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New e-Reader Service Backed By Hearst

New York – A
spin-off of Hearst Publishing,


, will
launch in 2010 an e-magazine, e-newspaper and e-book store that will power at
least one dedicated e-reading device during 2010, the company said.

The e-bookstore
will be suited to smartphones, netbooks and other devices as well, and Skiff
said it will attend International CES with a visible presence and with at least
one partner, and possibly show Skiff-based devices.

Skiff, formerly
called First Paper, said in a statement that it is working with “major consumer
electronics manufacturers” to integrate Skiff’s e-bookstore service and its
digital store “into a range of innovative devices, the first of which will be
unveiled soon.”

The devices will
be supported by 3G service from Sprint, and Sprint stores will be one of the
venues to sell them.

Also, Skiff has
partnered with leading semiconductor maker Marvell to create a “system on a
chip” for e-readers, it said.

Unlike current
e-bookstores, the Skiff digital store will focus heavily on magazines and

“We’re building an
integrated end-to-end service,” said Skiff president Gilbert Fuchsberg.  “We’re focused on newspapers, magazine and
periodicals first … we think the category so far has principally been focused
on e-books, often with a handful of periodicals that don’t deliver a very good
experience for the consumer or a good model for the publisher.  Newspapers and magazines are a very large
market category – larger than books,” he told TWICE, adding, “There’s a lot of
interesting hardware, but it’s tough to do really good services.”

Skiff will also
offer smartphone apps, it said.

Skiff has been
“incubated” as a separate company by Hearst, which has supported other
companies in early-stage investments, including Netscape, XM Satellite Radio,
Sling Media and E Ink, which makes screens suited to e-readers.

The Skiff service
also includes an advertising system, and Skiff is also partnering with Nielsen
and ComScore to provide advertisers metrics to gauge advertising effectiveness,
said Skiff.