Tuesday, July 12, 2011


It’s 2011, and most old-school media outlets are still struggling to figure out what to do with their digital presences. Paywalls have been a risky bet for the most part (partly because they’ve been easy to get around), and monetizing content by serving advertisements isn’t always enough to keep the ship afloat when it’s so easy for readers to hop sources on the Web.

Two Philadelphia newspapers have come up with an interesting plan: to bundle inexpensive Android tablets with digital subscriptions. Both the Philadelphia Inquirer and Philadelphia Daily News are hoping the combined offering will boost readership of their downloadable news, which currently runs about $3 per week. While tablet pricing hasn’t been revealed just yet, it’s thought that parent company Philadelphia Media Network would offer the tablets as cheaply as half price. That’s not too shabby considering there are some fairly nice Android slabs available for around $200 retail — like Barnes and Noble’s Nook Color and the Viewsonic gTablet.

At the company’s press conference yesterday, PMN announced that a limited number of tablets would be available at launch, perhaps as few as 2,000. As you’d probably also expect, the devices will be Wi-Fi only to begin with — though 3G or 4G versions may be a possibility in the future. There is also an iPad app in the works, though subscriptions accessed via your shiny Apple tablet will unsurprisingly not be eligible for any kind of hardware subsidy.

As Brad Linder points out over at Liliputing, if readers are willing to sign up for long-term subscriptions, it’s a win-win situation. Subscribers get a good deal on a decent piece of Android hardware while the publisher guarantees its costs are covered and a little bit of profit will roll in for the next year or two.

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