The New York Times iPad app, featuring news, opinion, and feature articles, was early out the gate, but others have joined the race.
Lance WhitneyContributing Writer
Lance Whitney is a freelance technology writer and trainer and a former IT professional. He's written for Time, CNET, PCMag, and several other publications. He's the author of two tech books--one on Windows and another on LinkedIn.
As their print editions lose readers and business, many newspaper and magazine publishers are hoping the iPad will prove fertile ground for new customers.
iPad owners who need their daily New York Times fix can grab it courtesy of the paper's new iPad app or even just the site itself, which made Apple's list of iPad-ready sites that have been optimized for compatibility with the iPad's features. The Times' iPad features got a prominent preview during Apple CEO Steve Jobs' unveiling of the tablet device in January.
The free New York Times Editor Choice app will download to the iPad a daily selection of the newspaper's top business and technology stories, opinions, and features picked by Times editors. Readers will find 8 to 10 articles all captured from the paper's regular news pages and columns.
Using the tablet's touch screen, iPad owners can tap to view the videos and slideshows that will join many of the Times stories. Articles and images can also be downloaded and synced to the iPad, so readers can view them without a Wi-Fi or 3G connection. The new app is free and supported by advertisers, but the Times said it's planning a paid app that would offer more content.
The Times is joined by a growing list of other publishers eager to tap into the new iPad market.
USA Today is launching its own iPad app Saturday with a hook to lure readers. The app will be free until July 4 and then available through a fee-based subscription. In addition to providing the latest news stories, the USA Today app will offer photos and graphics to take advantage of the iPad's high-resolution screen.
The Wall Street Journal is unveiling a free iPad app on Saturday with selected news stories, videos, and slideshows for non-subscribers, but a richer array of content for people willing to pay $3.99 a week to subscribe. Current subscribers of the Journal's print edition can get full access free for a limited time.
Magazine publishers are also hopping onto the iPad with new apps on Saturday. Popular Science is launching a $4.99 app, while GQ will hit the tablet with its own $2.99 app.
Though newspapers and magazines are offering full content for free, most are adopting a strategy similar to that of the Times and the Journal--dangle a limited number of stories for free, but then charge for a fuller plate of content. iPad users, for example, will be able to download for free 12 pages of content from the April issue of Men's Health magazine as a preview.
The full April issue will then be available for download in the iTunes store for $4.99 and will be followed by the May issue, available by April 20. The Men's Health iPad app will also offer interactive features including real-time polls and increased social-networking capabilities with Twitter and Facebook, and will incorporate full-screen, high-definition video footage from behind the scenes of Men's Health cover shoots.
However, the strategy of offering a bit of content for free before charging for it may not do much to stem the tide of shrinking sales. Surveys, such as a recent Harris poll, found a significant number of people unwilling to pay for content online.