Media owners target iPad

26 November 2010

NEW YORK: Major media owners including News Corp, Time Warner and Comcast are rapidly increasing their presence on tablet devices like Apple's iPad.

News Corp is close to launching a "tablet-only product", possibly named The Daily, costing an estimated 99¢ (€0.74; £0.63) per week, and primarily targeted at a US audience.

In an interview with the Fox Business Network, Rupert Murdoch, ceo of News Corp, said this was "certainly" among the company's "most exciting" projects.

The Wall Street Journal already boasts an iPad app and alternative for Google's Android, now powering Samsung's Galaxy, which has sold 600,000 units since hitting store shelves in early November.

"We think the digital arena is a very important one ... particularly the mobile platforms," Chase Carey, News Corp's president/coo, said on a call with analysts this month.

"The iPad brings a whole new dimension of opportunities to the digital arena ... But, look, [the] scarcity of our products is a tremendous value. I think we need to make sure we manage that product."

Elsewhere, Sir Richard Branson, founder of Virgin Group - active in sectors from air transport to telecoms - is reportedly planning an iPad-exclusive publication.

Virgin is expected to unveil the title, covering culture, travel and business, at a New York press conference on 30 November.

Time Warmer has also built iPad applications for People Magazine, Time, Sports Illustrated and Fortune, in recognition of the fact such appliances can augment its "Content Everywhere" initiative.

This means customers can access material in a variety of forms, and utilises pricing models from single copy purchases to combined print and digital options.

"If you download an iPad version of one of our Time Inc. magazines, you know that it's a rich and compelling consumer experience," said ceo Jeff Bewkes.

"We're confident that as the competition increases in that space, every tablet manufacturer will want to give its consumers the same range of choices and the same value."

Turning to TV, Comcast has recently rolled out XfinityTV, an on-demand internet service offering films and TV shows, and should extend it further going forward.

"Before the end of this year we will be launching the XfinityTV remote app which will work on all the iPhones and iPads and eventually, right after they come out on the Android based tablets," said ceo Brian Roberts.

"The iPad gives us a chance to now start from scratch with the user interface that is using web technology, not cable box technology."

Meanwhile, Time Warner Cable is "on the cusp" of revealing tools employing the iPad in new ways.

"In the not-too-distant future, our customers will have the opportunity to use their iPad as a remote control," said ceo Glenn Britt.

"We're working on infrastructure that could enable customers to enjoy our entire video product on any IP-connected device in the home."

TiVo has also created an application allowing subscribers to browse available content, manage recording, discover more information and post comments about programmes and films.

"Many others in the market have announced iPad app, we believe these are nothing more than glorified remote controls," said Tom Rogers, its ceo.

"The TiVo iPad app will be an experience that is context-aware and works uniquely in tandem with what you are doing on the television screen at the same time."

One key motivation for these plans is the affluence of the target audience.

The Pew Internet & American Life Project suggested 9% of Americans earning at least $75,000 a year own a tablet at present, above the 3% average.

Data sourced from Fox Business News/Seeking Alpha; additional content by Warc staff