Marten Blankesteijn, co-founder of Blendle, the new Dutch start-up whose app is already being referred to as the iTunes of the press.
TECHNOLOGIST How does Blendle work?
MARTEN BLANKESTEIJN We have all the main titles from the Netherlands in our portfolio, as well as foreign titles like The Economist. Subscribers don’t buy an entire issue; they just pay by the article. The price varies between €0.05 and €0.89, with 70 per cent of the revenue going to the publisher. If a subscriber isn’t satisfied with an article, he can get his money back.
TECHNOLOGIST What are the next steps?
MARTEN BLANKESTEIJN We’ve just concluded a partnership with Axel Springer and the New York Times Company, which invested €3 million in our start-up. With these additional resources, we’re aiming at major European markets in 2015.
Readly – the Swedish model
If Blendle can be compared to iTunes, the Swedish app Readly is like the music-streaming service Spotify.
Subscribers pay a set fee of €9.99 per month, giving them access to 750 titles in PDF form.
Launched in 2013, the app is available in Sweden, the U.S., the UK and Germany.
As with Blendle, media receive 70 per cent of the revenues.
TECHNOLOGIST Doesn’t your model encourage loyal readers to give up on print?
MARTEN BLANKESTEIJN Our app reaches a young audience that no longer buys newspapers and magazines on newsstands. Two-thirds of our 193,000 subscribers are under 35. So Blendle doesn’t undermine existing media business models. We deliver a new audience that’s ready to pay for journalistic content.
TECHNOLOGIST A lot of media have already created online subscription systems, like paywalls. What added value can you bring to these media??
MARTEN BLANKESTEIJN What people don’t like about paywalls is having to sign up all the time. If you register with Blendle once, you get simple and permanent access to all the media you’re interested in.
Interview by Robert Gloy