Murdoch undaunted by demise of The Daily
The media mogul's News Corp. is tweaking its e-news business model, combining a subscription to one of its daily newspapers with a subsidized tablet computer.
Rupert Murdoch and his far-flung News Corp. (NWSA) media empire aren't quite finished trying to distribute electronic versions of the company's newspapers on tablet computers.
Despite this week's announcement that The Daily, the first-of-its-kind iPad newspaper Murdoch launched nearly two years ago, is going blank on Dec. 15, News Corp is offering readers of The Times of London a deal that combines access to the electronic version of that daily newspaper with a subsidized Google (GOOG) Nexus 7 Android tablet.
Readers who agree to an 18-month electronic subscription to the The Times of London can buy a 32-gigabyte Nexus 7 tablet for 50 pounds ($81), a quarter of the gadget's retail price. News Corp. is selling an e-subscription (called a Digital Pack) for 4 pounds a week.
A Digital Pack subscription allows customers to read the digital version of The Times of London on any computer, tablet or smartphone.
Unlike The Daily, where Apple (AAPL) served as the newspaper's sole distribution arm, The Times of London/Nexus 7 deal enables News Corp. to distribute -- and profit from the sale of -- both the digital content and the hardware on which it is read.
It's estimated that News Corp. spent at least $80 million on The Daily. Despite some compelling graphics and 360-degree photos, the experiment never really caught on with readers and critics, who pointed out that The Daily's day-to-day mix of news, opinion and info-graphics wasn't that different from content available for free on the Internet.
But Murdoch may also have made a mistake in limiting readership to iPad owners. Offering the e-newspaper in other formats -- to news-hungry readers on all personal computers, tablets and smartphones -- might have kept the publication alive.
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Instead of merely offering a trusted conduit for communication, carriers are coming to see subscribers as sources of information that can be mined for profit.
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