Philadelphia Media Network divulged details Tuesday of its unprecedented plan to bundle discounted Android-driven computer tablets with digital newspaper subscriptions to its Daily News and Philadelphia Inquirer brands.
"Publisher Gregory Osberg said the pilot project will offer 5,000 tablets running Google's Android operating system for $99 to customers who buy a two-year digital subscription, which costs $9.99 a month for both newspapers," the Washington Post reported. "The 10-inch 4GB tablet is $129 with the purchase of a one-year digital subscription at $12.99 a month."
The Epicenter Blog on Wired.com wasted no time and pulled no punches in proclaiming, "nearly every part of the deal makes no sense for the prospective buyer, and a 5th grader could tell (Philadelphia Media Network) that their math is absurd."
The Archos Arnova 10 tablet is the hardware available to subscribers at a promotional price. Its MSRP is $200, but it can be purchased online and delivered to your door for $160.72 — meaning the Philadelphia Media Network promotion offers a real-world discount on the tablet of only about $30 or $60 depending on subscription length. The Wired blog reasons that getting such a paltry discount on a relatively unpopular low-end device doesn't do much in the way of incentivizing subscribers, and notes a method for acquiring comparable digital news content for less money without any contractual obligation: "you can get the Inquirer for $10 a month, with no contract, on an Amazon Kindle — a device you might actually want, and can purchase without any fanfare for as little as $114."
The Tuesday announcement came two months after news first broke that Philadelphia Media Network had a groundbreaking tablet promotion in the works. When those reports surfaced in July, Jeff Sonderman of the Poynter Institute wrote an op-ed piece titled, "Why subsidizing tablets for newspaper subscribers, in Philly & elsewhere, makes sense."
"Philadelphia Media Network's plan to subsidize tablet computers for thousands of subscribers makes a lot of sense, and they deserve credit for leading the industry in a new approach. But the impact it will have for the owner of the Inquirer and the Daily News is still an open question."
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