Does the new Kindle DX spell the end of free newspaper web sites?

Why would gadget-obsessed news junkies pay to read The New York Times on the new Amazon (AMZN) Kindle DX when they can read it for free on their iPhones? Unless, of course, today's announcement that The New York Times Co. (NYT) and The Washington Post Co. (WPO) will underwrite the cost of the new, bigger e-reader for anyone who pays to download their papers on the device is an early sign that their free websites' days are numbered.

As cool as the new Kindle is, it's not a tablet PC. It's not even as powerful, and certainly not as connected, as the typical smartphone. Imagine reading a Washington Post story on Pakistan on your iPhone while waiting for the bus. When you're done, you can search Google for blogs written by people who live there or e-mail a friend who has visited the region. With the Kindle, you can . . . read the newspaper. Put that way, it's hard to see who wouldn't pick the iPhone.