Can a steeply discounted tablet save your local newspaper?

Can a steeply discounted tablet save your local newspaper?

Summary: Philadelphia Media Network is gambling that getting tablet computers into the hands of readers will be a path to salvation.


On Tuesday September 13, the Philadelphia Media Network, which owns two struggling big city newspapers, The Philadelphia Inquirer and Daily News, and the website, will be making a big bet that getting tablet computers into the hands of readers will be a path to salvation.

The print newspapers, already struggling with readership and ad revenue despite being the only daily newspapers in the fifth largest city in the United States (almost 6 million people in the metropolitan area), have decided that there might be salvation in the tablet world. To experiment with that premise, they are releasing 5,000 tablets to be sold at $99 with a 2-year, $10/month subscription to the paper's digital versions, or $129 with a 1-year, $13/month subscription to the digital paper apps, originally developed for the Apple iPad.

The publisher of the Inquirer and the CEO of PMN,  Gregory J. Osberg, was quoted in AdWeek as saying that the manufacturer of the tablet hardware , Archos, had agreed "to let the papers keep the subscription revenue and consumer data, which will enable it to study user-ship."  In addition to the app subscriptions, some of the tablet costs are being offset by sponsorship from Comcast, Main Line Health, and Wells Fargo bank. PMN also said that separate subscriptions to the newspaper app, presumably for Android devices, will be available for $45/year.

As the frenzy over the HP Touchpad has shown, that $100 price point is certainly no bar to entry for people interested in tablets, and while the 10-inch  tablet is being based on newly announced hardware from Archos -- the Arnova 10 G2 tablet -- the hardware isn't exactly cutting edge. The screen resolution is only 1024 x 600, far below the 10-inch Android tablet standard set by the Motorola Xoom at 1280 x 1024 and even lacking the standardized aspect ratio of devices such as the iPad and Touchpad at 1024x768. There is no GPS, and no HDMI support, and only 4 GB of memory, though there is a micro SD slot.

The CPU is a single-core Rockchip 2918 at 1 GHz with an integrated GPU. Benchmarking tests done at the Arctablet Blog show reasonable performance.

Archos tablets have, in the past, not included the Google Android marketplace, using their own market and the third-party AppLib market, but the  "hands-on" review the newspaper did on their own product indicates the availability of more than 100,000 apps, which is more than the third-party markets offer so it is possible the device will have the standard Android market. On the plus side, the tablet does run Gingerbread (Android 2.3.1), which means that application support is good and they aren't struggling to support Honeycomb. And if they aren't using the Android Marketplace, Archos users, in the past,  have found ways to simply install it alongside the provided app source.

At $100, the tablet is a throwaway price for many people, though with the additional cost of the subscription to the newspaper apps, buyers might feel a bit locked in, and committing to trailing edge hardware for a multi-year subscription may not be the best experience that a user wants to buy into.

If you are already a subscriber to the papers or were looking for a reason to switch to their digital editions, perhaps the discounted cost of the apps will offset the cost of the hardware for you. I'm sure that's the intent of PMN.  But as a mechanism for drawing in new readers and expanding their revenue base, this seems doomed from the start, even as a transitional attempt to move into digital media.

If PMN's research finds that these tablets are of value to their business model, after the first 5,000 are in the hands of consumers, they plan a more general release of the devices on Black Friday. But with a less than financially secure traditional media company looking for ways to remain relevant, there's a good chance that those first 5,000 customers will be quickly orphaned.

See also:

Topics: Laptops, Hardware, Mobility, Tablets

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.


Log in or register to join the discussion
  • RE: Can a steeply discounted tablet save your local newspaper?

    Umm, the XOOM is 1280x800.

    If you only need it for a newspaper, 1024x600 is fine.
  • RE: Can a steeply discounted tablet save your local newspaper?

    Oh and this is exactly why Android will dominate the Tablet form factor! Flexibility is key and any medium that attempts a one size fits all solution will ultimately miss several markets.

    Right now, Android is on the two most popular ereaders and this Tablet approach is a whole new animal for selling news services.

    Do these services exist on the likes of the iPad? Of course they do but if you look at the Color Nook you will see that using their custom implementation would never be allowed by Apple.
    • RE: Can a steeply discounted tablet save your local newspaper?

      @Peter Perry <br><br>I'll get that number fixed; I had 1024 stuck in my head.<br><br>I don't disagree that the Android platform is a viable one; I have two Android tablets (a stock Samsung Tab and a very hacked Nook Color) and I've got this PMN one on the way. There will be a followup to this story when I have it in my hands.<br><br>But the bigger issue is the local paper thinking that this will help with some serious subscriber and ad revenue issues; I don't really think that this will change their fortunes.
      David Chernicoff
      • RE: Can a steeply discounted tablet save your local newspaper?

        @David Chernicoff if it is painted as an Android Tablet on par with the original iPad, it might just help.

        Honestlly, I used to work in Boston and I would ride the T into work... Every day I would buy the Herald to read my Sports at 50 cents a day... We worked an average of 222 days a year so that would pay for the Tablet alone but you would still have the extra fees over that price.
    • RE: Can a steeply discounted tablet save your local newspaper?

      @Peter Perry I think the flexibility of the android platform is a double edged sword. It lends itself well to this kind of customization, which is good for newspapers, and other niche use cases. I think it will also work well for amazon, although the jury is still out on that. The down side of the open nature is that the platform is that it so customizable. The GUI changes and custom builds we have seen in the phone space, and to a lesser degree in the tablet space have lead to some very real consequences. Namely slow update cycles from the vendors, overall inconsistencies in the user experience, and support from device to device.
  • It's funny to watch newspapers struggle with everything

    to boost sagging sales. Except content and editorial slant.
    • Amen


      Could not agree more. Our local newspaper, the Lexington Herald mis-Leader is losing money and readers like a leaky boat; yet they will not change their out right bias. You can read letter after letter to their editors decrying their slant on their website, which is free. Yet they ignore the problem and continue to blame it on technology. Poppycock. Myself I would prefer a digital version, but I would settle for a traditional paper under the condition that it is fair and not biased like the majority of papers in the US. re: Paul Krugman's latest NY Times blog post.
  • I've read the Chicago Tribune us working witb

    Samsung to try a similar "test" run for their papers? I also have my doubts.

    Pagan jim
    James Quinn
  • RE: Can a steeply discounted tablet save your local newspaper?

    If you are a Philly subscriber 7 days a week it costs $500/year to get that newspaper on your doorstep every morning. Seems like a no-brainer to get this if you are a subscriber and not have to go outside when it 2 degrees in January.
  • My local is doing fine...

    ...because it has news that is relevant to those in the community. Local events, occurrences, police log, high school sports, etc. No electronic device necessary. Nor would I want it on one -- I prefer to read off the printed page when reading for pleasure, be it the paper or a novel.
  • cheap Tiffany Charms

    <br><strong><a href=" ">tiffany co</a></strong><br><strong><a href=" ">tiffany online</a></strong>Dubai's skyline has grown in the a short time by an amount, which took over a century for that developed nations to produce in the backyard. In Dubai's situation, it was the petrol exploration in the beginning, and then your commerce from free exchange zones, which made it be mentioned at par using the developed countries. The desire to see it has the tourism field flourish and also the gains from a thriving current economic climate, were both major purpose Dubai's skyline developed so frantically in the last two several years. In the lifetime of events, the city also became the brand new residing destination for fabulous hotels. Gone were typically the heydays of Sydney, London, New You are able to and Tokyo. <br><strong><a href=" ">tiffany sale</a></strong>Dubai hotels were even standing by par, shoulder-to-shoulder, eyeball-to-eyeball with them. Today's Dubai offers several dozens of of world class hotels to create your stay in comfortable. Apart from Dubai hotel rooms (United Arab-speaking Emirates) it's possible to choose from many other options, like furnished villas not to mention beach end apartments, to make one's stay comfortable. <br><br>Let you and me examine the next data to learn more about Dubai hotel rooms. Until the early 90s, they wasn't to be found in so many numbers available on the market. By the start of 2000 but, this floor reality had dramatically modified. <br><strong><a href=" ">tiffany jewelry</a></strong>One s gets impressed by looking at their numbers nowadays. This contributor counted on just one site not to mention found a lot more than three few more entries for ones five-star option alone. The count for the four, three and two movie star hotels will be even further awesome, one reckons. There were a 100 % of 414 hotel rooms in Dubai in your year 2006. They were the visitor attractions for taking the 6. <strong><a href=" ">cheap tiffany jewelry</a></strong>5 zillion visitors who visited the city that time. The income earned by these places to stay stood from Dh10. 8b in the same length. This nevertheless grew by 15. 74 percent to be at Dh12. 5b in the year 2007. <strong><a href=" ">cheap Tiffany Accessories</a></strong>This also discloses the stress on Dubai hotel rooms (United Arab-speaking Emirates), furnished villas as well as Dubai conventional hotel apartments throughout their attempts to cope with the standard of demand people face with the industry. <br><br>This is why Dubai's government has nodded to a lot of new programs that promised to set up newer rendered villas, furnished apartments not to mention Dubai hotels (United Arabic Emirates) for its place. The total number of homes stood by 40, 862 in all these clips, in the entire year 2006. This will have to be further raised with a handsome margin in order to satisfy with that set formal target involving receiving 15 huge number of visitors by your year 2010. Two key happenings, one of which was just held, and the other even so on, are expected to guidance Dubai around meeting out utilizing its 2010 aim at. <strong><a href=" ">cheap Tiffany Bangles</a></strong>The to begin with was Dubai's earliest Tourism Expansion Projects not to mention Investment Economy (TDIM) exposure, which was to become held out of January 20-22, 2008. Major property companies from all over the world were required to showcase ventures worth finished 0 billion dollars. The plan behind it had been to pick up various components of Dubai's elegant growth in concert, namely real estate firms, private companies, investors and government bodies, and frame out the near future course of action. <br><br>The other event, which is taking destination across Dubai immediately, is typically the 13th Dubai Store shopping Festival (DSF). This will coincide with the help of many easy programs by places like shopping malls, Dubai hotels and any place else, apart out of your shopping mania that the festival was info on. The show to be held because of January hrs a to January 24 (2008), is expected to attract 3. <br><strong><a href=" ">Tiffany Pendants sale</a></strong>5 zillion visitors from all over the globe. An water Bounce house can be described as fun and even creative technique to bring joy to almost every party or event. Not sole are Bounce houses remarkably cheap if you think their sizing and the length of people they're able to entertain; these are safe plus loved just by adults in addition to children similarly. <br /><br />Different Varieties Bounce Buildings:<br /><br />Children's Hindrance Courses :Bounce real estate shaped similar to obstacle programmes are suitable for those trying to experience more than just bouncing around. They really are great in the case of making excitement games to get involved in whilst to the inflatable Jump house. <strong><a href=" ">Tiffany Bracelets online</a></strong><br /><br />Basketball Legal - Just what exactly better tactic to score some sort of slam dunk, than when youre able to leap 6 feet on the air as a consequence of the blow up Bounce castle that you are currently on. Any inflatable Jump castle, can be bought basketball trial, is an excellent solution for some youngsters exactly who enjoy each of those activities. <br /><br />Bungee Perform - Feel running whilst linked with a flexible rope that might only always be stretched a great deal of! This is without a doubt fun for any that are actually competitive along with think they own the strength to continue the travel time. The small children are bound to find worked through to this! <br /><br />Gladiator Joust - This is exactly for the ones want to mix a ancient fashioned wrestle with a jump around in a inflatable Bounce house. Youre able to take your house on all the stand, and watch who is ready to stand up, without diminishing off, all the longest! <br /><br />Slide - For that prefer jump downward a Reversal house that is certainly at some sort of gradient, you should look a Jump house put. They come in different heights together with gradients so you're able to be sure to have the one that you desire. <strong><a href=" ">discount Tiffany Accessories</a></strong><br /><br />Character - If you suffer from a character/theme for which you child really likes, then you will want get a fabulous Bounce house specific fot it? An model is that one can get princess or queen and clown castles, so generate your pick and then judge the expense of available. <br /><br />Events which is Bounce Dwellings are perfect<br /><br />Kid's Birthday Parties :What better technique to celebrate some sort of kid's birthday than which includes a Bounce castle from which enjoy. Not just will it maintain your children and additionally their company entertained, additionally, you will have to be able to worry less in what they are approximately since the can all have one destination. <br /><br />Theme Galleries and Carnivals - If you're organizing a special day for the large crowd then a Bounce house will surely steal your show. Not just does it provide an outlet for younger children to have fun with themselves, it also adds to the atmosphere in the park a lot. <br /><br />Whatever occasion you intend to use a new Bounce family home for, make sure that you know exactly what you are getting. If you happen to be wanting for you to merely receive the house without any subsequent service attached, then be aware that you may have problems setting it up up and getting it down. Whatever you choose to do, make sure to get a number of quotes, and many importantly. . . ensure the children have a terrific day!. <br><br><a href=""> Charms blog </a><br><br><a href=""> Charms </a><br><br><a href=""> About blog </a>