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Tablets to solve PayWall headache

Fairfax launched its new iPad app this week. Is it enough to pay for the company’s transition from a traditional newspaper to an online publisher?

There’s no doubt that the growth of tablet devices over the last year has been phenomenal, especially if the “sold out” signs in many retail stores selling the iPad 2 are any indication.

Our love affair with the iPad is matched by our fascination with the myriad of apps available for download. There are more than half a million of them in the iTunes app store, and that number is growing at one heck of a rate.

This week, Fairfax threw its hat into the ring with the launch of the second version of its iPad app. Right now, the app is free, but the company plans to charge for it towards the end of the year. Darren Winterford, a director at app developer Creative Licence Digital, says that the expected tag of $9 per month is still to be proven as an acceptable price point.

So, will the new Fairfax app be popular enough to cover the revenue gap if more people stop buying papers and consume content online? The publisher’s initial foray into tablet apps was met with a lukewarm reception. I ask Jack Matthews, CEO of Metropolitan Media at Fairfax, what’s so different this time?

No matter how good the content, it needs to offer something we can’t get online, says Eric Beecher, publisher of Crikey and Business Spectator. He questions why people will want an app that pursues the old newspaper model of offering a package of varying interests when, in today’s world, people want to pursue their own niches to a greater depth than will ever be offered by a generic publication.

First published on ZDNet

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