News Corp. Launches Newspaper for Tablet Computers

A lot of sizzle, still waiting for the steak. That appears to be the consensus on News Corp.'s (NWS) Wednesday unveiling of The Daily, the first newspaper designed exclusively for tablet computers.

News Corp., which owns The Wall Street Journal and Fox Broadcasting, outlined its plan for The Daily as it debuted the e-paper to the public. The Daily will publish as many as 100 pages each day on news, sports, gossip, opinion and arts. Subscriptions will cost $39.99 a year.

With the launch, News Corp. is banking on a rapidly expanding base of readers who will get their news exclusively from tablet computers, such as the Apple (AAPL) iPad introduced last year. NPD Group's DisplaySearch division projects that global shipments of mini notebooks, tablets and touch-screen computers will surge sixfold to about 122 million in 2016 from about 20 million in 2010.

Will Readers Pay for E-News?

The publication is part of News Corp.'s effort to stem the tide of free news that has threatened much of the news industry over the past few years. The Wall Street Journal and The Times of London both started charging for online content last year, and The New York Times also plans to begin charging frequent Web readers this year.

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"New times demand new journalism," News Corp. CEO Rupert Murdoch in a statement. "So we built The Daily completely from scratch -- on the most innovative device to come about in my time -- the iPad."

Meanwhile, media and technology reviewers such as Time magazine's Tuned In blog, and DailyFinance sister publication appeared to appreciated the navigation, gadgetry and visual vibrancy of Wednesday's edition, which led with a story about the civil unrest in Egypt.

"The cover was chosen more for art than timeliness, a striking photo from yesterday in Egypt," says "The Daily gets points and some street cred for having correspondent Joshua Hersh in Cairo."

Jury's Still Out on The Daily's Quality

As for news content, bloggers agreed that the jury would be out for a few more days.

"I found little in the first issue that I really wanted to read beginning to end," Time's Tuned In blogger writes. "The story choice so far seems to assume little interest in longer reads; a few stories of two or three pages are rounded out by a collection of briefs and graphics."

Still, Gizmodo called the publication "pretty" and "well-produced" and found it impressive that the new paper would attempt to publish 100 pages a day.

Additionally, PaidContent and Engadget both gave kudos to Verizon Communications (VZ) for sponsoring two free weeks of the paper.

On the same day as it launched the new publication, News Corp. posted second-quarter earnings that more than doubled from the year-ago quarter.

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