updated 08:00 am EDT, Fri October 22, 2010
News Corp backs out on self-made tablet newsstand
News Corp was alleged on Friday to have scrapped plans for a news aggregation service that would have targeted the web and tablets, including the iPad. Nicknamed Project Alesia, it was supposedly "weeks" away from launch but was considered too expensive to run. A Brand Republic source believed that the British-based project cost £20 million ($31.4 million) to get started and would have had another £1 million ($1.6 million) set aside for marketing.
About 100 people were involved, but their fate isn't known. Some may be rolled into News International.
The idea was intended to provide a paid and more tablet-ready alternative to sites such as Google News, which News Corp owner Rupert Murdoch has previously criticized for purportedly 'stealing' readers by letting them see some or all of an article for free through its own pages. Recently, Murdoch has been trying to get many of his sites behind "paywalls" that require a subscription to unlock, and he has been a fan of tablets as paid gateways to news to the extent that a national mobile newspaper is believed in the works that would give iPads, iPhones and other devices a relatively unique offering.
A slip to News Corp's own WSJ claimed that the company still finds "tremendous value" in the idea, but where it would go isn't certain beyond investments in the paid publishing firm Journalism Online. The company may not have to seek an option for Apple devices in the next few months, however, as Apple is believed to be making an iPad-oriented newsstand that would serve as a companion to the iBookstore and let publishers deliver subscriptions in the background, much as the Amazon Kindle does today.