Will the iPad Mini save the newspaper industry?

August 8, 2012

One of the goals when Apple released its popular iPad tablet was to help save the newspaper industry and journalism as a whole.

While strides were made, the iPad wasn’t the savior of the industry.

Could the iPad Mini be the solution?

At the time of the iPad’s 2010 release, newspapers across the country were struggling to stay afloat. Advertisement sales quickly crashed and smaller papers struggled to create an online presence. The iPad didn’t fix any of those problems.

The main problem was that the iPad starts at $500, essentially making it a luxury item in many markets.

If rumors prove to be true about the iPad Mini — a 7.85-inch version of the popular tablet — being priced between $200 and $250, then it becomes a device more easily available to the public. With a larger amount of people using the iPad as a result, there would be an opportunity to sell and push more content from news organizations to the iPad.

Maybe it could even save some current organizations and papers.

Last month, News Corp.’s made-for-iPad newspaper The Daily laid off a third of it staff, bringing down the total number of employees from 170 to 120. The digital newspaper needs about 500,000 subscribers (you can subscribe for 99-cents weekly or $40 for the year), but last fall, it reported that it only had about 100,000. It’s unclear how many people were actively reading the paper.

A more affordable iPad could be the answer for The Daily. If they convince the iPad users that Apple is going to gain through the iPad Mini that their content is compelling enough and can bring back that nostalgic feeling of waking up and reading a newspaper every morning, maybe they could hire back some folks.

The idea had to cross late Apple CEO Steve Jobs’ mind before he passed away last October. According to recent media reports, Jobs was receptive to the idea of a smaller iPad, in order to compete with the likes of the Kindle Fire and future Google tablets.

Apple’s current senior vice president of Internet Software and Services said he believes there’s a strong market for a 7-inch tablet.

“I expressed this to Steve several times since Thanksgiving and he seemed very receptive the last time. I found email, books, Facebook, and video very compelling on a 7-inch. Web browsing is definitely the weakest point, but still usable,” Cue said in an email to Apple executives.

Will the iPad Mini re-open the door for the newspaper industry?

The heavily rumored device is expected to be announced Sept. 12 and released nine days later on Sept. 21, alongside Apple’s iPhone 5 and a new mobile operating system, iOS 6.

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