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Running Out of Time?

The Wall Street Journal featured this article (subscription required) today about Time magazine. According to the article, Time Inc. is about to take another shot at becoming “a leading web player.” One of the key steps they’re apparently taking is to tear down the walls between the web and print operations. To be honest, I would have thought they took care of this step long ago, thanks in large part to the extremely time-sensitive nature of most magazine content.

The article also talks about how Time is serious about this effort, despite the fact that they’ve produced mediocre results from previous attempts. They cite the success of SI.com, which is another Time-Warner property and apparently has been heading in the right direction. The funny thing is I couldn’t really say whether SI.com is making progress or not. I never go there…I’m an ESPN.com guy. Sure, I subscribe to Sports Illustrated magazine, but I’m pretty sure I’ve never been to their website. I also subscribe to Time magazine but I’ve never been to Time.com either. I get the vast majority of my news off Yahoo and Google.

I think it’s going to require some extremely innovative new services to turn Time.com into the type of destination site Time-Warner has in mind. I didn’t see anything in this article that got me excited enough to think they can really turn it around.

Is it possible that brands such as “Time” and “Sports Illustrated” will always connote “print product” in the minds of most consumers? As hard as it might seem to justify, I wonder if Time-Warner wouldn’t be better off trying to create new online brands for their content.

General Motors presents an interesting parallel: Did anyone ever really buy into the notion that “it’s not your father’s Oldsmobile”?

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