Saturday, February 15, 2003

Salon and Apple -- the perfect match! The cash-starved webzine Salon has pulled out of these crises before, but you've got to figure that -- one of these times -- it won't. According to the San Francisco Chronicle, David Talbot and company may run out of money by the end of the month after running up $81 million in losses during their nearly seven years of publication.

If Salon actually, finally fails, it would leave rival Slate as the only big general-interest webzine that's not tied to a larger media empire. Incredible. A half-dozen years ago, many people (okay, me too), were predicting that by now there would be dozens if not hundreds of such ventures.

Slate prospers the old-fashioned way: as a part of the Microsoft empire, it doesn't have to worry about making money. Indeed, such magazines as the New Yorker, the New Republic, the Atlantic Monthly, Harper's, and the like all lose money every year or at least most years.

So let me drag out an idea I first floated a couple of years ago, when it first became clear that Salon was not going to make everyone rich: talk Apple Computer into acquiring its assets, and let the Salon-Slate competition continue, this time as a proxy for the longstanding Apple-Microsoft war.

Publishing Salon may be too expensive for Talbot, but it would be pocket change for Steve Jobs. And each webzine, culturally, is the perfect match: Salon is hip, sexy, and alternative, much like Apple; Slate is a little geeky, has a penchant for telling you what you ought to think, and reaches a lot more people, just like Microsoft.

Is this a match made in heaven or what?

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