Could an iPad Newspaper from News Corp. Succeed?

A tablet-based news source from Murdoch would have advantages and challenges.

News Corp. may soon launch a brand new national newspaper that would be available only on tablet devices such as Apple's iPad. News Corp. Chairman and CEO Rupert Murdoch recently said the iPad was a "perfect platform" for consuming news. The unnamed newspaper would charge a subscription fee, and feature short news items designed to be read during a morning commute. The new digital-only newspaper would be managed and run out of the offices of News Corp.'s The New York Post and could start publishing by the end of the year, according to The Los Angeles Times. Pricing for the newspaper has not yet been announced.

Would it Work?

While an exclusively digital newspaper from a major news company sounds interesting, it would have to overcome a lot of competition from free sources. First, a digital-only paid newspaper would have to compete with free online content from almost every major news organization in the world. Some iPad applications, like Instapaper and Early Edition, let you store this free content to read later offline.

News Corp. would also have to compete against the many free daily newspapers offered in American cities. Newspapers such as AM New York and Metro--a national daily with local editions for Boston, New York, and Philadelphia--thrive on offering short, pithy articles for commuters.

The question then is whether News Corp. can offer content that is compelling enough to forego the overwhelming amount of free stuff and pay for the tablet edition? One advantage News Corp. has over free dailies is its current news properties. If News Corp.'s new publication includes content from popular sources like The New York Post, Dow Jones and other News Corp. outlets, that could make the company's tablet-only newspaper more enticing than its free competitors.

Paywalls

News Corp.'s digital-only newspaper plans are part of Murdoch's quest to make the news industry more profitable.   Over the past year, Murdoch has toyed with a variety of ideas to convince readers to pay for news content instead of getting it online for free.

Last August, Murdoch said all News Corp. newspaper sites would erect paywalls before the end of summer 2010.   In the past twelve months, the only News Corp. site to add a payment scheme to its Website has been the British papers The Times and The Sunday Times. News Corp's The Wall Street Journal has had a paywall for since its website launched.

Cut out Google

Murdoch has also said his company would consider blocking Google from indexing its sites. Instead, News Corp. would cut an exclusive content deal with competing search engines such as Microsoft's Bing. The News Corp. chairman has said on several occasions that he believes search engines should pay for the right to display News Corp. content on sites like Google News, the search giant's news aggregator. However, Murdoch has yet to follow through on his threat to cut off Google.

Connect with Ian on Twitter (@ianpaul).

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