Profitability and finding a sustainable economic way for newspaper in the digital world is probably if the not the main, at least one of the main challenges facing the news industry today.
The whole picture can be seen by different perspectives: how to combine print and digital formats; which approach to follow online - free of charge, relying on advertising or putting content behind a paywall accessible through subscriptions; how to make money from digital devices, such as tablets and smartphones.
Optimists and pessimists bounce the ball between them and the most pessimists even argue that online news will never equal newspapers revenue.
"Can newspapers apps ever make a profit?", wonders Stephen Glover on the Independent. Apart from different subscription packages offered by different newspapers - the Daily Telegraph launched its new paid-for iPad app last week for example - one of the most controversial issues is the relationship between publishers and Apple.
As far as competitors are growing regarding both the devices and the subscription's terms, Apple is still taking the lion's share, and for many, 'tablet' still means 'iPad.'
Glover wonders if there is a real large market for newspaper apps. Why a reader should want to pay for an app while through its device he/she could access free content through an Internet browser on the newspaper website?
There are, however, some readers who are willing to pay for an app that recreates the same layout and feeling of reading the print paper, and in this sense newspapers apps could be very useful when users are abroad, where finding the print version is definitely more expensive, Glover noted.
Competition is one solution, in his opinion: "If Apple's near-monopoly loosens, and the price of tablets and newspapers apps come down, the number of people reading papers in this way will increase". One way or another - he adds - "apps offer some unhoped-for extra revenue in the digital age, though I would be astonished if they transformed the economics of newspaper publishing."
Sceptics about iPad-app profitability may cite the so far not excellent results of The Daily, the first iPad-only newspaper launched by Rupert Murdoch's News Corp last February.
News Corp executives declined to describe circulation numbers at The Daily, Ad Age reported. On the other hand the article quoted Chase Carey, deputy chairman, president and chief at News Corp, saying that in the first quarter the company lost about $10 million on the newspaper. "It's real early days at The Daily", he said. "It's a work in progress. It's only a month-plus that it's been pay based. It's actually one of the most downloaded news apps out there but it's a work in progress. The tablet market is still in its infancy".
A signal that apps and mobile publishing are becoming more and more important could come from the decision of the UK ABC, the Bureau that reports figures about UK media's audience, of beginning to measure smartphone app activity.
As the Guardian reported, alongside print and website figures, ABC will also measure how many "unique devices" - like unique users, the paper explained, but one user might mean more than one device - access the app, page impression, the average duration of apps visits as well as ad impressions requested by each device.
US ABC began measuring iPad apps in March last year.