iPad magazine bundler LeKiosk tries to crack UK, Italy

To Zinio and iTunes Newsstand, now add another iPad magazine aggregator. LeKiosk, which launched in France in January 2011, is now launching in the UK on Monday, and is seeking funding for further internationalisation.

The service, which carries more than 600 replica titles from 120 publishers in France, touts two main differentiators:

  1. A user interface that majors on a “3D” street magazine newsstand.
  2. Beside single-copy sales, a subscription offering 10 magazine replicas for  €10 or £10 per month.

Now it is launching in the UK with around 90 titles from BBC Worldwide, Dennis, the Daily Mail, IPC Media, Conde Nast and Tattoo Life. LeKiosk co-founder Michael Philippe tells paidContent:

“We are confident we could have maybe 200 titles in the next few months.”

But LeKiosk may be challenged to break out of its home turf:

  • LeKiosk’s app, which will also come to Android soon, may accurately replicate the magazine kiosks which pepper French sidewalks, but these kiosks are far less common in the UK, making the idea just an interface gimmick.
  • It goes up against a growing number of tablet magazine delivery options, including incumbent replica aggregator Zinio, which Philippe acknowledges is his main competitor, and the apps released directly by publishers.
  • The upfront French branding is not necessarily desirable in the UK, and the ad video, which refers to “England” not not other UK nations, seems targeted more at LeKiosk’s French audience than Brits.

So, if LeKiosk has an advantage, it is surely the interesting bundle model, similar to NextIssue Media’s in the States, for which LeKiosk claims 25,000 subscribers and which appears to be a discovery driver:

“They usually read around seven magazines on average,” Philippe reveals. “The most interesting thing is, 85 percent of the subscribers read magazines that they would never have read before.

“We see it with Spotify in music and Netflix in movies – users want to have access to whichever magazine they want.”

LeKiosk splits any iOS sales 30 percent with Apple, 40 percent with publishers and keeps 30 percent for itself.

“We have reached 500,000 downloads on the app store in France with €1.5 million turnover last and estimated €6 million this year,” Philippe tells paidContent.

“The company raised around €3 million over the last few years. We are now also raising a new round. We are investing a lot for international development – profitability is not for 2012, maybe for 2013.

“Our second step is international development,” Philippe says. “We are starting with the UK because the iPad rate is very high – about three or four times more than in France. We are confident we will be launching in Italy in September, maybe in other countries in Europe in 2013.”

The outfit wants to replicate in the UK some French business relationships, which have given its app carriage on new Archos and Sony tablets and which have seen it get promotion from some publishers themselves.

Time will tell whether this French operator can gain a meaning foothold away from home.