Apple, News Corp. to launch all-digital newspaper next week

Murdoch's The Daily set to go live Feb. 2

Apple and News Corp. will launch the latter's The Daily iPad-only newspaper next week in New York, according to invitations sent to members of the press.

The invitations stated that News Corp. CEO Rupert Murdoch will share the stage at the Guggenheim Museum on Feb. 2 with Eddy Cue, the head of Apple's Internet services group, and the executive in charge of iTunes, the App Store and MobileMe.

The Daily will be an all-digital publication available only on Apple's iPad, and initially only in the U.S. Last year, the New York Times reported that Murdoch had pumped $30 million into the venture, which would feature photographs and other media specifically designed for the tablet. Murdoch has said that the newspaper will cost 99c per week.

Rumors have circulated on Apple enthusiast and technology blogs that The Daily will be the first digital publication to use a new subscription pay scheme, under which the App Store will automatically dip into a customer's iTunes account on a weekly or monthly basis.

Currently, the App Store does not generally permit subscriptions, and instead requires publications to charge for each issue individually.

The Daily will also reportedly be the first publication to be delivered to subscribers' iPads automatically each day, much like Amazon.com's Kindle does with digital versions of papers such as the New York Times.

Originally, the newspaper's launch was slated for Jan. 19, and was to include Apple CEO Steve Jobs. Days later, Jobs announced that he was taking an indefinite medical leave for an undisclosed problem, which may have been the reason for pushing back the event.

Magazine and newspaper publishers were bullish about the iPad last year, with some analysts saying that the tablet would relieve the pressure on media, which has witnessed declining circulations and lower advertising revenues.

But while initial sales were strong, consumers apparently balked at paying single-issue prices, resulting in declining download numbers. The expectation is that a subscription option may reinvigorate sales.

It's unknown whether Apple will relax its policies and allow publishers access to iPad subscribers' data, a bone of contention between some media giants and the Cupertino, Calif. company.

Gregg Keizer covers Microsoft, security issues, Apple, Web browsers and general technology breaking news for Computerworld. Follow Gregg on Twitter at @gkeizer or subscribe to Gregg's RSS feed. His e-mail address is gkeizer@computerworld.com.

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Gregg Keizer

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