The Tribune Company is planning to use self-made tablets to combat the worst effects of the seemingly inevitable death of the traditional newspaper -- an ambitious plan with its share of detractors.
In a story first reported by CNN's Mark Milian, it was announced that the Tribune Company is currently working on a tablet device that will ultimately provide digital versions of its newspapers, which include the Chicago Tribune, the Los Angeles Times, the Hartford Courant, the Orlando Sentinel, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, and the Baltimore Sun, along with several others.
The tablet will not be a purpose-built device such as the Kindle of Nook e-readers, but a full-featured tablet that can perform all of the usual app and browser functions -- albeit with an interface designed around the newspaper experience.
The article's sources are "interviews with more than half a dozen current and former Tribune employees" given under condition of anonymity. The project's chief proponent at the company is said to be President and CEO Eddy Hartenstein, founder of DirecTV and member of the Board of Directors of Sirius XM Radio, SanDisk, and Broadcom Corporation. Tribune's free apps can be found on mobile devices running Android, iOS and Windows Mobile/ Windows Phone operating systems.
The tablet itself is said to be of Samsung manufacture, with a modified Android operating system. Subscribers of one of Tribune's newspapers (perhaps in concert with partner mobile service providers) will receive the tablets for free, or at least with a significant reduction of the device's cost.
Although this program may not be initially available in every city where Tribune owns a regional newspaper, Chicago and Southern California have been said to be definite (although delayed) test markets.
A number of commentors, professional and amateur, have already expressed negative views on the Tribune Company's plans. In an article entitled "Media Death March: Please, Tribune Co., Don’t Do This", Wired's Tim Carmody makes the clear point that "very few people need a newspaper subscription, and even fewer want an off-brand Android tablet." Even the original CNN article points out that the only way this plan will work is if advertising revenues for digital publishing match those for printed newspapers, and they currently do not -- and there isn't much reason to suspect that they will.
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