Jasubhai Digital Media, part of the $50-million Jasubhai Group, is set to launch a new weekly magazine, InformationWeek, on October 1. InformationWeek is an American magazine, and the India edition is the result of an agreement with the US-based company CMP. The magazine will be priced at Rs 30.
The launch comes in the wake of about 50 employees - that is, 20 per cent of the group's digital wing - being laid off; a move, that Maulik Jasubhai, chief executive officer, Jasubhai Digital Media (JDM), says "is to consolidate operations," and has nothing to do with the prevailing gloom in the IT sector. JDM was the publisher of the now-defunct CHIP magazine, which after its launch in April 1998, and aided by an interesting mixture of content and marketing innovations like free CDs and DVDs, notched up a circulation of 1,20,000 and a reach to over 300 cities across the country in three years.
However, earlier this year, JDM fell out with Vogel-Veriag of Germany, with whom it had a licensing agreement to publish the magazine. Jasubhai claims that the Vogel group brought about little that was 'new' to the alliance, and that 'all the work' had to be done by JMD. JMD now publishes DIGIT, its answer to CHIP.
So will this tie-up with another foreign publisher be any different? For one, JMD will have exclusive rights to publish all the content of its American counterpart, though the 15-strong editorial team will be Indian. The US partner will also provide access to all its technological case studies, and provide editorial training. According to JDM, a major issue behind the split with Vogel was that the German partner did not provide any kind of support in advertising, marketing, or editorial, while, at the same time, it insisted that JDM pay a percentage of the revenues as royalty for using the brand name.
With the new magazine JMD plans 'to do its own thing'. There is a major difference between the readership of InformationWeek in the US, and the positioning of InformationWeek in India. In the United States, most readers are technocrats and are at the high end of the market. On the other hand, in India, most managers are, what one industry observer calls, "functional managers". The content, therefore, has to be modified accordingly.
'Digital technology' will remain the core focus though. One reason for the breakup of the earlier alliance was that while JDM wanted to focus on digital technology, the Germans were recalcitrant as the original focus of CHIP was personal computing. Maulik, however, has his reasons, for the different positioning, which, incidentally, will continue in the new offering. "What we are looking at is the emerging market of technocrats, and managers in traditional brick and mortar operations, who require an understanding of IT," he says.
The layoffs, combined with the launch, say industry watchers, is part of JDM's plan to position itself as a horizontal player in the market - and spread its focus to include entertainment, news etc. Maulik, however, denies any such move is in the offing. "We are still focused on technology, we have no plans to get into news, or entertainment. Technology is where our strength is."
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