Newspapers, Magazines Plan Apps for the Samsung Galaxy, Hedging on iPad
By RUSSELL ADAMS And JESSICA E. VASCELLARO
Several major news organizations are lining up behind a new tablet device from Samsung Electronics Co. built on Google Inc. software, in order to broaden mobile readership beyond owners of Apple Inc. popular iPad.
New York Times Co. and News Corp.’s Wall Street Journal will offer software applications for Samsung’s Galaxy Tab, which goes on sale later this year, according to people familiar with the matter. Gannett Co.’s USA Today also is developing a software application, the publisher said.
Several major news organizations are lining up behind a new tablet device from Samsung Electronics Co. built on Google Inc. software, in order to broaden mobile readership beyond owners of Apple Inc. popular iPad. Jessica Vascellaro reports.
The device, announced in September, is one of the most highly anticipated tablet launches since the iPad in part because it is built on Google’s Android operating system, which is expected to power a wave of new tablets. Publishers are hoping that the applications they are building for the Galaxy can be easily adapted to other forthcoming Android devices, say people familiar with the matter.
With a seven-inch screen, the Galaxy tablet is smaller than the iPad. Samsung has announced deals with Verizon Wireless, Sprint Nextel Corp., T-Mobile USA and AT&T Inc. to distribute it in the U.S. Verizon Wireless is a joint venture of Verizon Communications Inc. and Vodafone PLC.
Publishers are stepping up their talks with a range of tablet makers, hoping to help their content stand out in what’s expected to be an increasingly crowded field. Journal owner News Corp. is in discussions with Research in Motion Ltd. on a range of possible partnerships for RIM’s forthcoming tablet, including discounted access to various News Corp. properties including the Journal, according to people familiar with the matter.
Executives from Pearson PLC’s Financial Times said they are in talks with tablet makers about similar arrangements.
The RIM tablet, called the PlayBook, will be preloaded with the Kobo e-book reader, and will feature content and services from a range of other partners, such as Amazon.com Inc., when it goes on sale next year, people familiar with RIM’s plans say.
RIM declined to comment on plans for the PlayBook. Amazon.com said it will release a Kindle e-book reader application for the PlayBook, but declined to comment on any other plans.
Publishers see such alliances as critical to preserving and increasing their audiences as readers migrate to digital devices, where there are more options than ever for news and entertainment.
At the same time, tablet makers such as Samsung and RIM are looking to distinguish themselves from Apple, which shot out to a huge lead in the tablet market with the April launch of the iPad. In some cases, device makers are talking about advertising their devices in certain publications, in exchange for publishers agreeing to build an application for them.
Samsung said in September the international version of the Galaxy will launch with an e-reading hub featuring three built-in apps that already aggregate content for mobile devices: Zinio for magazines, Kobo for e-books and PressDisplay for newspapers.
The New York Times will have an app for the Galaxy that will be preloaded on certain devices, depending on the carrier, according to a person familiar with the matter. The Times’s app for the Galaxy will be free for a time, as will its full app for the iPad launching later this year. Those apps will stop being free in January 2011 when the Times begins charging for unlimited access to its website. Times executives have said they plan to sell bundled subscriptions in print, online and digital devices.
The Wall Street Journal is expected to offer its Android app on a subscription basis, according to a person familiar with the matter.
Apple sold 3.27 million iPads as of June 30 and has created a promising new outlet for many news organizations. With the Journal’s iPad app, people who already subscribe to the publication currently get full access to the iPad edition. Non-subscribers pay $3.99 a week for full access. The Journal’s app has been downloaded more than 650,000 times. The Times’s free Editor’s Choice app, which offers a limited selection of Times content, has been downloaded more than 570,000 times.
Some news organizations have complained that periodicals are a low priority for Apple. The iPad lacks a dedicated hub for selling newspapers and magazines similar to what it offers for books. Newspapers and magazines cannot easily sell subscriptions on the iPad. Apple recently has turned its attention to a subscription offering for newspapers and magazines, people familiar with the matter have said, but it could be months before it’s available on the device.
—Phred Dvorak contributed to this article
Write to Russell Adams at firstname.lastname@example.org and Jessica E. Vascellaro at email@example.com