By Jim Beard
In 2007, Marvel became the first major comic book company to bring their library online in a significant way with Marvel Digital Comics Unlimited. Now, the next level of their digital subscription service, Marvel Unlimited offers fans over 13,000 of Marvel’s greatest comics and continues to grow each and every week, comprising the most comprehensive digital comics library offered by any comics publisher.
“The number one thing that went into making Marvel Unlimited new and better is customer feedback,” says Peter Phillips, the Senior Vice President & General Manager of Marvel’s Digital Media Group. “Our fans were screaming that they loved our subscription offering but [we realized that] it’s time to make some changes, and a lot of what is in this new launch came directly from the fans. They described exactly what they wanted, and of course we added our own touches to it.”
The new Marvel Unlimited focuses on mobile devices with an all-new app for iPhone®, iPad®, and iPod touch®--coming soon to AndroidTM devices—and utilizes Marvel’s patented digital reading technology. The service will provide a seamless access via mobile device or web-browser, so readers may not only stream content while connected to the Internet, but also read a select amount of comics offline via the app.
“One of the biggest handicaps of the original offering was the fact that you needed a Flash reader, and that a Flash reader obviously has its limitations,” notes Phillips “So even if you had a mobile device that could accept flash, it still wasn’t best for that. We are really extending our ‘get it anywhere’ type of offering so that no matter what device you are using, you can experience and enjoy the Marvel digital offerings.
“I would expect an existing Marvel Unlimited user to realize what a great opportunity this is to not only enjoy a lot of back issues but also be able to re-engage certain storylines. One of the key things here is that we are filling in some of the gaps in the library. We are going to try to re-engage people. They may be on their desktop at home and they realize they’re on issue #3 and they’ve got to go to work, so they can download the app and continue the reading experience [as they go]. And they can either stream up to 13,000 titles or if they want they have up to six titles that they can put in their library and they can download them for when they are disconnected.”
Phillips also stresses that readers will experience two different opportunities with Marvel Unlimited.
“We have the offering of the single issues that you can buy in our Marvel Comics App store, and we have our subscription app which has got over 13,000 back titles,” he explains. “Those offerings are distinct and unique; I would say that as Marvel continues to develop great publishing offerings, we will continue to digitize them and put them up in the library. So, in six months to a year, I have no doubt that the number will continue to climb.”
The all-new Marvel Unlimited will also bring subscribers special member-only benefits, exclusive member offers and even more specials to be announced.
“This is a multi-phased launch,” says Phillips. “We know that a lot of fans really want to be apart of a Marvel ‘insiders club.’ People want discounts, people want [exclusives], and some of this stuff will be available earlier rather than later. Discounts for apparel and abilities to get early access to certain things. Those things will come quickly. And then we are going to start expanding the program to allow people to get additional Marvel related offerings that may not be restricted to just publishing.”
Stay tuned to Marvel.com for more details on the Marvel: House of Ideas panel and Marvel’s plans for SXSW. Join the conversation on Twitter using #MarvelSXSW!