The Samsung partnership is part of a larger strategy to distribute content from Skiff's publisher partners -- including Hearst but also the New York Times Co., Random House and Simon & Schuster -- to a variety of mobile devices, as well as laptops and PCs.
Through its partnership with Samsung, users will be able to download the Skiff e-reader service to Samsung devices, including the new Galaxy S. As of December, Skiff LLC also had deals to incorporate a Skiff "chip" into Netbooks and e-readers from EnTourage Systems, Spring Design and Plastic Logic. High-profile publications with agreements to distribute digital content via Skiff include Esquire, Forbes, Popular Mechanics, The New York Times, and Financial Times.
Hearst's funding of the Skiff startup is interesting, as it marks the first move by a major magazine publisher into the realm of consumer electronics.
In addition to the digital e-reader software platform and a connected online storefront, Skiff is also producing hardware in the form of an e-reader device of the same name. The device, previewed in January at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, won praise for its large, thin "e-Paper" touchscreen (a quarter-inch thin, 11.5-inches on the diagonal) and high resolution.
Separately, Hearst has collaborated with a number of other big magazine publishers -- including Conde Nast, Time Inc. and Meredith Corp. -- to create a common online storefront for print and digital magazines. The project is led by Time executive vice president John Squires, Hearst EVP/GM John Loughlin and Conde Nast president of Consumer Marketing Robert Sauerberg.