Rightly or wrongly, the Apple iPad, which hits store shelves in a little over a week, has been linked to the salvation of the media industry. If the iPad succeeds, the logic goes, newspapers and magazines across the globe could have a ticket out of years of slumping newsstand sales and plummeting ad revenue. But today, some tentative details of the first major subscription plan for the Apple iPad were revealed – and not everyone is impressed.
According to new reports, the Wall Street Journal will charge $17.99 a month for access to an iPad-friendly version of the popular business broadsheet. That's cheaper than a monthly subscription to the print edition of the Journal, which currently costs about $29 a month, but significantly more expensive than plain old online access to the Journal, which will set you back $1.99 a week.
"[P]erhaps the iPad version of the Journal will sport some exclusive features that are not available anywhere else," Tabini writes. "Or the final pricing model may include special offers and different subscription options (such as an annual subscription for an even lower rate); or maybe Rupert Murdoch has simply decided that iPad users will be willing to pay a premium to get his publication’s content on their brand new devices."
Fast Company's Kit Eaton argues that – in theory – the iPad edition of the Journal should be cheaper than the print edition, which "has to be printed, sorted, wrapped and distributed every time a new copy rolls off the presses – each subscriber's copy then has to make its way to their home, which is a huge organizational effort."
On the other hand, Eaton continues, "the digital edition is merely crafted once in the WSJ's shiny newsroom Macs and then fired into the ether, from where it basically finds its own way to your particular iPad. Surely it costs much less to do this, and thus it should be much cheaper than $18, to tempt more users to buy the darn thing?"
The Wall Street Journal isn't the only outlet lining up to work with Apple on iPad content. The New York Times has signaled that the iPad will become a major part of its mobile strategy, as have HarperCollins and Hulu, the popular video streaming site. And earlier this month, the Associated Press and Conde Nast, a major magazine publisher, said they will deliver original content to iPad screens.
Are you a Wall Street Journal subscriber? Or would you consider subscribing once the paper hits the iPad? We want to hear from you. Drop us a line in the comments section.