Following the success of subscription sales by The Times and The Wall Street Journal iPad apps, News Corp is "nearing a decision on whether to start a news organization to provide content for a subscription application on digital tablet devices such as Apple's iPad," Kenneth Li of Financial Times reported today.
With 5000 subscriptions in London three days after launching The Times iPad app, and 10,000 iPad subscriptions to The Wall Street Journal, there is a chance that readers "are willing to pay for portability." A decision on whether plans for the tablet-content unit will be shelved or carried out is due by autumn.
According to Li, "If News Corp gives the green light to the tablet-centric news organization plans, it will hire a new staff while borrowing from the resources, but not the content, of its news assets...the product would include coverage of news, entertainment, sports and politics."
The iPad continues to soar in popularity, and iPad apps seem to be proving a significant new way to reach the public. However, some complaints are louder than the hype surrounding the Apple product, especially concerning Apple's standpoint on long-term subscriptions between customers and publishers, in terms of revenue share and information on subscribers. "All publishers say they hope to offer subscriptions at some point. But that is not happening, creating tension between publishers and Apple" Keith Kelly of New York Post wrote, before quoting a source. "If Jobs antagonizes all of the content producers, all of the content producers will flee as soon as there is competition," a publishing executive reportedly warns.
Competition might not be so far away anymore with Microsoft really "hard at work on Windows-based tablets," as reported by Ina Fried of cnet news. "They'll be shipping as soon as they are ready," she wrote, quoting CEO Steve Ballmer. Even though the iPad has sold "certainly more than" Ballmer would like, he still insists that the goal is "not just to deliver products, but to deliver products that people want to buy."
Will selling content on tablet computers eventually provide a substantial revenue stream for newspapers?