Apple attempts newspaper subscription plan for iPads

Sep 16, 2010
Finance

Will you pay for news on your iPad? Publishers hope so, as a new plan to offer iPad subscriptions prepares to launch. Also in today’s App Industry Roundup, apps get personal and the Wall Street Journal’s Walt Mossbert teaches us how to read. Newspapers eye the iPad for new revenue opportunities Even though the cat […]

Will you pay for news on your iPad? Publishers hope so, as a new plan to offer iPad subscriptions prepares to launch. Also in today’s App Industry Roundup, apps get personal and the Wall Street Journal’s Walt Mossbert teaches us how to read.

Newspapers eye the iPad for new revenue opportunities

Even though the cat remains firmly out of the bag, newspapers are still trying to wring revenue from online editions. The latest folly comes from Apple, as it is preparing a newspaper subscription plan, according to this story from the San Jose Mercury News.

Newspapers would love if readers would pay for product on the iPad, as some already do on Amazon’s Kindle. But the challenges remain obvious, since newspapers began giving away content online a decade ago thinking that ad revenue would generate sufficient income to bolster the free content. That left newspapers with two distinct operating models:

1. Free content for anyone with Internet access. That turns out to be just about everyone.

2. A paid print product delivered directly to your door or the nearest paper box. That market, as you have read, is disintegrating quickly.

So why would people pay for an iPad newspaper subscription when there are plenty of apps that deliver that content for free?

“Industry leaders hope tablet devices and subscription-based digital editions can help newspapers stem, if not reverse, losses incurred after they began offering content online for free years ago,” the story notes.

The key to success would be slick advertising, notes analyst Charles Wolf: “I would say it’s a risk, but I would argue it’s a short-term risk. If you can put animation and multimedia into ads, that will greatly enhance reader views. I am certain of that.

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A few people will pay, like they do on the Kindle, but it will be such a small fraction of the audience that it will do little to solve an industry problem that was born a decade ago.

Other apps for you

Apps continue to get more personal, tailoring content delivery based more on user tastes than on an editor’s viewpoint of what someone may want. In today’s tech-rich business section of the New York Times, two such apps were pointed out.

In GadgetWise, Roy Furchgott writes about a new diet app called Intelli-Diet that can create a diet based on what you like to eat. You input your favorite foods, clicking on what you like, and then it creates a three meals-a-day menu plan. It sounds useful but may still not be ideal, Furchgott notes: “The results certainly appear healthy, but they may not be much of a meal. It tells you what foods to eat, but it does not offer recipes. For instance, one dinner menu included one cup of beans, two large sweet potatoes, one avocado, one medium bell pepper and a generous helping of Romaine lettuce? What do you make from that?”

Also, there is no ability to create a menu based on Ho-Ho’s.

At the bottom of his useful App Smart column, Bob Tedeschi points us toward SkyGrid, “a news-gathering app that filters information according to your tastes, and selects topics that are most quickly spreading across the Web.” It appears to be a popular app among Appolicious users as well, as it averages 4 stars from a large base of users that own the app. The key to SkyGrid is that it points out the news that is happening now on the web, so if you’re a need-to-know now person, check out the free app.

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The App Smart column leads off with a list of iPhone, Android and BlackBerry apps to enjoy the NFL season. The column is geared to the football nut and Tedeschi spends several column inches discussing Verizon’s new NFL mobile app, exclusive to that carrier’s V-Cast subscribers. For a different take on NFL apps for the iPhone, Appolicious’ own Brad Spirrison offers a number of goodies, including one that may (or may not) help you understand why the Lions’ Calvin Johnson’s end zone catch was not a touchdown against the Bears.

How to read

In case you were wondering if that skill you started to learn in Kindergarten had changed in any way, Walt Mossberg offers a primer on how to read a book on an iPad.

In a column titled “Finding the best way to read books on an iPad,” the godfather of tech reviews compares three reading apps on the iPad: Apple’s iBooks, Amazon’s Kindle and Barnes & Noble’s Nook. (These are the iPad app versions, not the dedicated Kindle or Nook eReaders.) His conclusion: He seems to like them all, finding benefits and flaws with each.

Before eBooks and eReaders came along, all we used to criticize and praise was the actual content of the books. I’m starting to miss those days.

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Eric Benderoff

Eric Benderoff is the principal of BendableMedia.com, an editorial services firm, and a founding member of the Appolicious content strategy team. His personal technology column for the Chicago Tribune has appeared in newspapers and websites nationwide. He is a regular guest on Chicago's WGN Radio and is a frequent commentator about consumer technology on national TV news programs.

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