Computer Publishers Plan Home Invasion

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The nation's three largest business computer magazine publishers are all homeward bound.

Playing into the booming home market for personal computers, both Ziff-Davis Publishing Co. and CMP Publications this week plan to announce new home titles. International Data Group may not be far behind-or it may already be there.

The Big 3 computer publishers are pushing into the consumer market just as the Big 3 computer marketers-IBM Corp., Apple Computer and Compaq Computer Corp.-did last year.

Major business software marketers, including Microsoft Corp., WordPerfect Corp. and Computer Associates, are also developing new consumer lines.

For these publishers, going home marks a sharp departure from their current emphasis on trade magazines for computer professionals.

But they won't be home alone: "I believe you'll see some consumer publishers at least doing demographic splits" for home users of PCs, said Dan Schwartz, publisher of CMP's new launch, HomePC, to be announced at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas this week.

HomePC will launch with a pressrun of 200,000 for its May-June issue, timed to follow the computer industry's season of major product introductions.

If negotiations for a joint venture with Walt Disney Co. are finalized in time, Ziff-Davis will also announce its own family-oriented computer magazine, likely to make its debut in September, Advertising Age has learned. The new title may replace Kids & Computers, a year-old parents magazine that Ziff acquired in August along


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with Computer Gaming World, the largest computer-game magazine. Kids & Computers has been folded into monthly Computer Gaming World as a section.

Disney publishes FamilyFun, a 10-times-yearly family activity magazine whose computer buff founder, Jake Winebaum, wants to spin off a magazine devoted to family computing. Fast-growing FamilyFun has attracted scores of computer ads from hardware and software companies including Apple and IBM-even though the computer category wasn't even on the magazine's original business plan.

Disney's publishing unit considered acquiring the high-tech monthly Wired last year, and its executives are eager to raise the division's profile.

IDG has a fundamentally different strategy for the home market, focusing on how technology is used in the home-video, games and multimedia applications-not computers themselves.

"The home market will be driven by the applications," said Kelly Conlin, president of IDG's marketing services division.

With five years' tenure in the home market, IDG counts its consumer circulation at well over 2 million. That's the combined distribution of monthlies Video Event and Take One, which both review home videos. It also launched monthly Desktop Video World last year, covering the converging computer and video markets.

IDG's PC World, the No. 2 computer magazine in circulation after Ziff's PC Magazine, in December relaunched Multimedia World as a standalone monthly; it was formerly a demographic edition. Monthly PC World has also begun publishing quarterly computer supplements that appear both in Newsweek and PC World.

A second IDG division, Infotainment World, this month introduced a monthly about the interactive market, Electronic Entertainment.

Ziff's new magazine will be part of a Consumer Media Group that Ziff formed in November. Last week, Ziff announced that veteran computer editor John Dickinson would be editor in chief of yet another consumer-oriented computer magazine expected later this year.

HomePC will be CMP's second newsstand title, joining monthly Windows Magazine. CMP bought Windows OS/2 in 1991, had Drake Lundell reposition it, then relaunched it in February 1992 under the new name. Mr. Lundell, CMP publishing director, spent most of 1993 studying the emerging consumer/home market for PCs, and HomePC is the result.

He described reactions from high-income, well-educated participants in focus groups: "The com-puter industry makes them feel dumb when they start to buy products .|.|. the feeling that came through was we would do more with a computer if we understand it or if people didn't talk down to us."

Those are HomePC's target readers. Only 12% of that audience now reads computer publications and only 4% does so regularly, he said, describing the audience as upscale well-educated consumers with household incomes above $50,000, who probably bring work home.

Computer marketers in the booming home market have had few efficient ad vehicles. Home Office Computing, a decade-old monthly believed to be turning a profit at last for parent Scholastic Inc., ran 704 ad pages in the first 11 months of 1993, up 23.6% from the same period for 1992. Circulation rose 16.4% to 414,820 in 1993's first half.

Already CMP claims to have 40 pages of advertising for HomePC, including ads from software marketers Microsoft and WordPerfect plus PC-makers IBM and Compaq. The rate card lists a one-time b&w page at $9,000, but charter advertisers get a 25% discount for placements in each of the six issues of HomePC planned for 1994-a cost per thousand as low as $38.

HomePC will accept only advertising from computer companies, said Michael S. Leeds, CMP president.

Mr. Lundell identified five target categories: PC hardware; educational software; entertainment/games; multimedia add-ons such as sound or video systems; and general software categories such as personal finance, taxes, schedulers, home improvement programs and interior design packages.

CMP aims to sell 200,000 copies of its first issue. Its eventual goal is 600,000 to 700,000 subscribers, though the time frame is nebulous.

Editorial will focus on three areas, said Ellen Pearlman, a 17-year publishing veteran who will be HomePC's editor in chief. Education, entertainment and "personal productivity," including personal finance, schedulers and tax programs, will be covered, she said.M

Scott Donaton contributed to this story.


13.10The home market is the latest audience being courted by computer publishers.







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