• Will Apple's Tablet Bring an End to Free Mobile News?

    The release of the Apple tablet could help no shortage of struggling industries regain some of the lost bounce in their step, particularly the publishing world, which has perpetually stumbled amidst the dawn of the digital age. Now comes a report that The New York Times is primed and ready to capitalize on the launch of the tablet with the big reveal of their long awaited paid content program. No longer will premium mobile content be available free of charge. And with the masses largely unwilling to cough up for digital news distribution, it may just take the tablet to change some minds.

    From New York Magazine:

    New York Times Chairman Arthur Sulzberger Jr. appears close to announcing that the paper will begin charging for access to its website, according to people familiar with internal deliberations.
    As we've managed to assess from the plethora of available clues about the design and functionalities of the forthcoming tablet, this new offering from Apple would very well be "a natural-born book reader." Built to compete with Amazon, Sony, and Barnes & Noble, the Apple Tablet could very well spark an appetite for content that will bode favorably for publications like the New York Times, which seems more than happy to piggyback on Apple's platform.

    One personal friend of Sulzberger said a final decision could come within days, and a senior newsroom source agreed, adding that the plan could be announced in a matter of weeks. (Apple's tablet computer is rumored to launch on January 27, and sources speculate that Sulzberger will strike a content partnership for the new device, which could dovetail with the paid strategy.)
    If a paid model is adopted by the Times to coincide with the tablet's launch, watch for the floodgates to open with myriad other currently free digital news outlets making the switch to "premium content" packages available at a reasonable price.

    But will it work... or just might this aggressive (and opportunistic) agenda backfire for those who adopt it? Ultimately, journalism will have to catch up with modern technology if reporters and publishers have any chance of staying in business. Paid content may not be popular, but it may be the only available option for publications struggling to stay in business. And if the tablet can help the publishing world stay afloat by facilitating a new content platform desirable to the masses, then we're looking at a win-win for all.

    But getting to that point could be a little messy.

    Image via NY Mag
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