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Would You Buy a Newspaper-Subsidized Android Tablet?



With the newspaper industry struggling in the face of digital content, two Philadelphia dailies are taking on the motto “if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em.” According to AdWeek, the Philadelphia Inquirer and Philly’s Daily News are planning to offer discounted Android tablets that are bundled with newspaper content.

Under the deal, customers would buy an Android tablet for much less than they usually would. On their homescreen would be direct links to digital versions of these Philadelphia newspapers. The tablet would also house dedicated apps for the periodicals, as well as pop-up advertisements on the homescreen. The specific device(s) that will be part of the offer is currently unknown. The program is set to kick off with 2,000 tabs in late August, with the deal ramping up later in the year.

The tablets and the newspaper content would be sold at about half the combined rate for the two. Mainstream Android tablets generally run from $500-600, and these newspapers’ digital editions cost $2.99 per week. So if we’re looking at $250 for a tablet, plus $6 per month for newspaper access, we could see this getting at least a few customers’ attention.

The newspapers’ parent company, the Philadelphia Media Network, would own the revenue and “consumer data,” which is likely to raise a few eyebrows. Would this simply mean telling the company how much time users spend reading each section of the digital papers, or would it also include all activity that takes place on the tablet? That remains to be seen, but if there’s the possibility of having customers’ private data sold to advertisers, this could raise serious red flags for privacy hounds.

It’s a bold move by the publishers, and is likely a sign of a desperate industry searching for ways to adapt and survive. If implemented correctly – with certain privacy guarantees in place – this could help those who don’t want to drop a fortune to get a solid piece of tablet hardware. While younger generations would probably rather get their news from RSS feeds and social links, we could see more members of 40+ age brackets finding deals like this appealing.

We can see how this could get annoying... (simulated)

One also has to wonder whether Amazon will employ something similar on its Kindle and/or upcoming Android tablet. They already offer a Kindle that is subsidized by advertisements, and newspaper subscriptions are available for instant delivery on the Kindle platform. So this kind of deal could be right up their alley. Perhaps we’ll hear about it when their tablet is announced.

Of course there also exists the possibility of users buying the Philadelphia subsidized slate and rooting it, to remove all of the newspaper content, advertising and tracking – essentially getting a tablet for half price. We wonder if nobody told the Philadelphia Media Network about XDA Developers?

In the meantime, we have to admire a 20th century company at least trying something new to survive in the 21st century. If your city’s newspapers offered a similar deal, would you jump at the chance to get a $250 XOOM or Galaxy Tab (plus a subscription)? We’d love to hear your two cents in the comments.



  1. Alain Chappaz

    07/11/2011 at 5:54 pm

    No I would not. I’d be worried about what limitations they would impose on content – i.e. can you have apps from other, competing, papers ?

  2. Jamie Arellano

    07/11/2011 at 6:14 pm

    this is a no brainer. You can root an android device and remove the ads, and the newspaper content. This is not something they can stop. The average consumer will not do this. However, those that know what’s up will surely turn a half priced tab into something legit. 

  3. Jamie Arellano

    07/11/2011 at 6:14 pm

    this is a no brainer. You can root an android device and remove the ads, and the newspaper content. This is not something they can stop. The average consumer will not do this. However, those that know what’s up will surely turn a half priced tab into something legit. 

  4. Down with morons!

    07/11/2011 at 6:42 pm

    I love it when people say things like “and it is likely a sign of …”. Oh really? I suspect you have no idea about the likelihood of this. I wonder if it’s your way of saying “I wonder if…” or “it’s my opinion that…” or “I suspect that…”. Don’t waste people’s time. You’re not special.

  5. Anonymous

    07/11/2011 at 8:02 pm

    I would go for the offer if the tablet is on the level of the Acer Iconia or Asus Transformer.  I read the Philly papers anyway, and like someone above me said, I have no problem rooting everything I buy.

  6. Internet Dude

    07/11/2011 at 8:15 pm

    Nope, buying hardware just so later if forced to buy a subscription for that hardware to view content? I don’t think so, Google news on my Android tablet is just fine for me.

  7. Anonymous

    07/11/2011 at 9:27 pm

    Would have to see the fine print.
    That is, of course, not considering rooting.

    Would want to know specifically what data rights they have and also what controls I have.
    I certainly wouldn’t pay for their ads to come in on my overpriced cellular data connection.

    Also – how long I’m obligated to buy the paper for.
    Even at $6/month that is close to $150 over two years – severly cutting down on the perceived savings.
    And what if I drop it and it breaks 12 months in?

    All in all – considering the paper monthly buy-in, no.
    I probably wouldn’t.

  8. Anonymous

    07/12/2011 at 2:30 am

    Android Tablets Sucks, no wonder the news paper industry is nearly extinct, $250.00 is still wayyyyy to much money for this unfinished crap, I predict the news paper will sell less than 30 additional subscriptions, if they were serious they would give the Android Tablets away with no contract commitment. Only problem they will have is what to do with the returned tablets.
    Here’s the best solution

    Free Android Tablet with $100.00 in cash to be paid to some Droid Tard to Root and Re-Engineer this Fail.
    No Contract No Tablet Return
    Keep the Android Tablet for 2 weeks and Promise to ship the consumer a IPad2

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