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NYT conflicted over pricing for iPad; others hesitant to even get on board

Keeping an eye on the upcoming release of the iPad and its impact on newspapers, we get this rumored debate within the New York Times.

On one side, a Times source explains, you have print circulation, which thinks it should control the iPad since it’s just another way to distribute the paper. They’d like to charge $20 to $30 per month for the Times’ forthcoming iPad app, basically the product already demonstrated on stage with Steve Jobs, the source said. Why so much? Because they’re said to be afraid people will cancel the print paper if they can get the same thing on their iPad. Nevermind that iPad distribution comes with none of the paper or delivery costs associated with print, or that there’s already a free electronic edition available to subscribers who cancel.

On the other side, you have the Times’ digital operation, which is pushing to charge $10 per month for the iPad edition and is said to be up in arms over print circulation’s pricing. The digital side will provide interactive content for the iPad no matter what happens, but does not want print circulation to have control of pricing, marketing and other facets of the product. It’s something of an uphill battle since print circ has had control of other e-editions, for example for the Kindle, which are also seen on the digital side as overpriced.

This report comes at odds with another report from the Financial Times reporting the hesitancy of some publications with getting in bed with Apple’s iPad altogether.

Ownership of subscriber in-formation and pricing have emerged as key issues.

Apple’s practice of sharing with its partners little consumer data beyond sales volume is a problem. “Is it a dealbreaker? It’s pretty damn close,” said one senior media executive of a major US metropolitan daily newspaper.

Publishers have spent decades collecting information about subscribers such as names, addresses, locations and credit card numbers that influence marketing plans and, in some cases, the content of the publication itself. Apple’s policy would separate them from their most valuable asset, publishing executives said.

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