updated 10:40 am EST, Fri November 12, 2010
News Corp says iPad taking newspaper users
The switch to iPad apps and other mobile reading apps has taken away from News Corp's newspaper sales, Rupert Murdoch's son and Asian/European operations lead James Murdoch observed today at the Monaco Media Forum. He explained that they were "much more directly cannibalistic" than the web since subscribers often read and treated them like the traditional format rather where web users read differently. The executive wouldn't give sales numbers, but these included both the Wall Street Journal app as well as News of the World and the Times of London.
Despite not making as much profit as would be possible with direct sales, the media giant was also comfortable with selling through iTunes since it was "frictionless" and didn't really change the cost expectations versus print. Whatever overhead Apple was asking would already exist in pressing and delivering physical copies.
"They charge a percentage but the guy on the newstand and the newsagent charge a percentage, and they don't even merchandise it properly," Murdoch said.
The executive's father Rupert has been enthusiastic about tablets and the iPad in particular. He has hope that the medium would reverse time and get users back to paying for news. News Corp's founder has been dismissive of free, ad-supported news and has lately been instituting paywalls on sites that were previously free, in many cases sacrificing as much as 90 percent of readership for higher profits.
Apple's tablet has been the near exclusive home to tablet-oriented newspapers, but the WSJ just on Thursday put out an Android tablet edition targeted at the Samsung Galaxy Tab and the future wave of devices that might use a similar resolution and screen size. Amazon's Kindle, the Sony Reader Daily Edition and other devices also get News Corp content but have to have much of the layout and imagery stripped out to fit the grayscale e-paper display.