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Steve Jobs preparing to revolutionize the newspaper business?

Steve Jobs and Apple are rumored to be preparing a newspaper subscription service. Could Steve Jobs shake up another industry?

By / September 15, 2010

Steve Jobs holds up an iPad. Could the Apple tablet computer change the newspaper industry?

RYAN ANSON/AFP/FILE

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iPods revolutionized the music industry. iPhones changed cellphones forever. Could the iPad revamp the newspaper business? It will if Steve Jobs has his way.

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That's the word from the San Jose Mercury News, which reported today that Apple will unveil a newspaper subscription service for the iPad.

"Roger Fidler, head of digital publishing at the Donald W. Reynolds Journalism Institute in Columbia, Mo., said Apple probably will take a 30 percent cut of all subscriptions sold through the company's online App Store, and as much as 40 percent of the advertising revenue from publications' apps," says the article. The Mercury News did not explain if Mr. Fidler was guessing at those numbers or if he was speaking from a point of authority. (Most of the article relied on anonymous sources.)

If Fidler's numbers are accurate, they may corroborate a Financial Times article from February that said publishers were wary of an iPad deal and demanded more money from Apple.

The 30 percent figure has some grounding. Steve Jobs cut a 70/30 deal for the Apple App Store, where programmers keep the lion's share of each software sale.

As another point of referral, The Wall Street Journal charges $3.99 a week for its iPad subscriptions.

"Publishers wanted to pay Apple a fee rather than a cut of subscription and advertising revenue and are not happy with Apple's terms," the Mercury News reported. "They had hoped to offer app editions as part of subscription bundles that include print versions of the paper. Instead, they must use Apple as an intermediary with subscribers."

So, iPad owner, would you subscribe to newspaper through such a deal? And, newspaper subscribers, does an iPad service entice you? Let us know in the comments.

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