Feeds

Apple said to prep iPad news sub service

Saving trees, one failing rag at a time

Top 5 reasons to deploy VMware with Tegile

Apple is preparing to throw an iPad lifeline to the rapidly sinking news biz by offering to host a newspaper subscription service on its "magical and revolutionary" device.

That's the word from the San Jose Mercury News, which notes that an announcement of the service is expected "soon".

This lifeline would not be a philanthropic helping hand to a struggling fourth estate that's bleeding money from lost subscriptions and advertising. According to the Merc's sources, Cupertino is demanding a hefty 30 per cent of subscription dollars and up to 40 per cent of advertising revenues.

That 40 per cent figure would be outlandish if applied to all of a newspaper's advertising revenue — odds are that it refers only to ads pushed onto the newspaper apps by Apple's iAd service, of which Cupertino keeps a 40 per cent cut for its efforts. Apple, of course, declined to comment.

The Merc also reports that Apple would provide an opt-in service that would enable newspapers to obtain the oh-so-valuable demographic information from subscribers that would enable their ad-sales staffs to convince advertisers to open their budgetary coffers.

Currently, only a few top-tier newspapaers offer paid subscriptions for the iPad or iPhone — the Financial Times at $4.25 or $6.25 per week, for example, or the Wall Street Journal at $3.99 per week. A fully Apple-supported and managed service would enable a far broader range of local and regional papers to jump on the digital-delivery bus.

The life-or-death challenge for those rags, however, would be how to get iPad users to pay for something that they can now get for free on a newspaper's website.

Different papers of different sizes are trying different strategies to keep subscriber revenue flowing. The shrinking San Francisco Chronicle, for example, delays selected stories from its website and offers an "e-edition" in addition to its paper-based offering. The New York Times is planning to start a "10 articles for free then you pay" scheme next January.

Results of newspapers' attempts to charge for content have been mixed, at best. The word on the street is that Rupert Murdoch's paywall strategy for The Times of London has been a bust, for example, as was The New York Times' first paid-content experiment, TimesSelect.

Murdoch still has high hopes for the iPad and its ilk, however, saying recently that "I think we're going to see, around the world, hundreds and hundreds of millions of these devices," and that those tablets will help revitalize the newspaper industry.

Being in the news biz ourselves, The Reg is crossing its collective fingers that paid journalism can remain viable. But the only way that readers who are accustomed to receiving their news for free will begin paying for it is if all outlets in a given market were to switch to a for-pay model simultaneously.

And not even Apple and its magic and revolutionary device has the reach and the persuasive clout to accomplish that feat. ®

Bootnote

At least one Silicon Valley bigwig doesn't believe that Apple's iAd service will succeed in saving the newspaper business — or, for that matter, succeed at all. Yahoo! CEO Carol Bartz told Reuters Wednesday about iAds: "That's going to fall apart for them. Advertisers are not going to have that type of control over them. Apple wants total control over those ads." At least she didn't tell Apple to "fuck off."

Intelligent flash storage arrays

More from The Register

next story
Bladerunner sequel might actually be good. Harrison Ford is in it
Go ahead, you're all clear, kid... Sorry, wrong film
Euro Parliament VOTES to BREAK UP GOOGLE. Er, OK then
It CANNA do it, captain.They DON'T have the POWER!
Musicians sue UK.gov over 'zero pay' copyright fix
Everyone else in Europe compensates us - why can't you?
I'll be back (and forward): Hollywood's time travel tribulations
Quick, call the Time Cops to sort out this paradox!
Megaupload overlord Kim Dotcom: The US HAS RADICALISED ME!
Now my lawyers have bailed 'cos I'm 'OFFICIALLY' BROKE
Forget Hillary, HP's ex CARLY FIORINA 'wants to be next US Prez'
Former CEO has political ambitions again, according to Washington DC sources
prev story

Whitepapers

Free virtual appliance for wire data analytics
The ExtraHop Discovery Edition is a free virtual appliance will help you to discover the performance of your applications across the network, web, VDI, database, and storage tiers.
Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
How to determine if cloud backup is right for your servers
Two key factors, technical feasibility and TCO economics, that backup and IT operations managers should consider when assessing cloud backup.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Business security measures using SSL
Examines the major types of threats to information security that businesses face today and the techniques for mitigating those threats.