Hearst has introduced Lighting Developer, which builds on the existing Embedded Developer site infrastructure to create a platform for solid state lighting (SSL) components. Whilst Digi-Key are a prominent supporter of Embedded Developer, they effectively own Lighting Developer. The launch press release says:

The site, www.lightingdeveloper.com, is designed to help SSL engineers quickly find LEDs, Optics, Drivers and Tools that work together in a complete application solution. Digi-Key will be the anchor sponsor complemented by additional sponsorship from SSL suppliers on Digi-Key’s line card…
…The search can start with a reference design, and subsequent search engines for LEDs, Optics, Drivers and Tools in the design chain are each linked to each other, a Bill of Materials, and finally to the Digi-Key shopping cart for fulfillment.

So this Heast publication will only cover products that are supplied by Digi-Key, and furthermore will route you to Digi-Key to buy the devices.
I’m pleased to see that the site makes the nature of the partnership with Digi-Key clear on the home page – there is no pretence of any independent journalism. It is, however, a worrying development as the site is branded a Hearst site and not Digi-Key. I worry that engineers will end up using media channels that only cover products offered by a particular vendor, which will inevitably limit their creativity.I’m also concerned that other distributors might launch similar ventures with less openness and honesty.
Lighting Developer – like its sister site Embedded Developer – is going to make the return on investment very clear to Digi-Key, as users are routed to Digi-Key’s site to purchase components. I’ll be interested to see whether any publisher can create a site that offers several alternative sources for purchase, running on a commission based upon sales generated, rather than charging for advertising.
Despite my concerns, I don’t think that it’s wrong for publishers to produce websites for a particular company: custom publishing of magazines has long been a source of significant revenue for many publishers. In the long term, however, I really hope high-quality independent media that prosper, rather than sites that are built purely to promote a specific company.

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