With Marvel Unlimited, Will Comixology Be Left Out In The Cold?


There has been much ado about Marvel's "Unlimited" digital comics program at SXSW over the weekend. From the official press release:

"Marvel Unlimited provides the deepest online reading experience utilizing Marvel’s patented digital reading technology while providing seamless access via iPhone, iPad or iPod touch or web-browser. Now you can truly enjoy your favorite comics anytime, anywhere!"

But where does that leave a digital comics site like comiXology? Doesn't this huge digital initiative by Marvel eat into comiXology's revenue -- not to mention the latter's reputation as the "one-stop-shop" for digital comics?

comics-by-comixologySure, you can still get all your fave Marvels at comiXology -- if you're into having multiple comic apps on your iPhone or iPad. But really, how long until Marvel, in conjunction with Disney/Apple, pulls away from the comiXology model completely? Isn't this inevitable? Doesn't Disney/Apple want to have their own platform for these assets?

Further: isn't the annual subscription "all you can eat" model going to be the dominant one for digital comics in the future? Far more Netflix or Spotify than buying individual issues at your comics retailer? (this isn't a knock at comics retailers...I suppose the fans who are hardcore purchasing comics directly from the brick and mortars will still continue to do so, if only as an arcane but strangely satisfying ritual).

This leaves the question: wither go DC? Will Marvel's expanded digital enterprises only bring the publisher and comiXology closer together? Or will they, feeling the heat from the competition, strike out on their own comprehensive platform as well (the recent hiring of Kevin Tsujihara -- an early-adopter of digital comics at DC -- as Warner Bros. CEO might really be significant in all this).

One thing is for certain -- the map on digital comics hasn't been finally drawn. And a lot can change.

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