The first quarterly issue of Newsweek Interactive should arrive by the end of March, and it's possible this magazine-on-disk will open frontiers and usher in a new era for magazines. In a moment of unbridled optimism, Newsweek president Richard Smith likens the occasion to the early days of television.
But there are those who say it may be too much too soon. Skeptics point out that the CD-ROM disk can be used only on a Sony Multimedia CD-ROM player (a DOS CD-ROM version for other machines is planned). And they say that despite the innovations - readers can choose from a menu of text and visual options that includes maps, stories, photos and film - it could be some time before consumers and advertisers warm to the concept. 'This is a case of the technology being ahead of the users,' says Dan Capell, editor of Capell's Circulation Report.
That doesn't mean magazines can't do disks, however. The Economist has developed a media kit on a disk for IBM and Apple machines that includes a sales presentation, rate card and such minutia as the number of subscribers in Cuba (one). 'Most of the people we've sent it to love and use it a lot,' says Economist spokeswoman Mary Ellis.
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