Making a big bet on the tablet market, the Philadelphia Inquirer and sibling paper Philadelphia Daily News in July announced a plan to sell deeply discounted tablets containing subscriptions to its digital editions.
Now, with the program set to kick off Sept. 13, Greg Osberg, the papers’ publisher, shared details of the program along with device and pricing information. The tablets are Arnova 10 G2 Android devices made by French consumer electronics company Archos. They will come loaded with the dailies’ three paid apps and access to the papers’ free site, Philly.com.
The cost is $285 for the tablet, which includes a one-year subscription to the apps, which Osberg said represents a 53 percent discount off the retail price of the subs plus tablet. Those who opt for a two-year subscription plus tablet will pay $339, a 65 percent discount off the retail price.
The company set up a dedicated website at Phillytablet.com to sell the tablets, which are part of a series of digital initiatives under Osberg.
The tablet will start with three sponsors: Comcast, Wells Fargo, and Main Line Health, a regional hospital network. Main Line saw the tablet as a way to supplement its print newspaper buy to reach younger readers, said Sarah Peterson, senior vice president of marketing there.
But Osberg, CEO and publisher of the Philadelphia Media Network, the entity that includes the papers and Philly.com, believes that the Arnova’s lower price as well as publicity for Android-supported devices will spur its adoption.
Archos was also attractive because it was willing to customize the home screen of the tablet and let the papers keep the subscription revenue and consumer data, which will enable it to study usership, he said.
“I think there’s going to be a lot of positive noise out there about the benefits of the Android platform when we’re doing the marketing for this offer,” he said. “There’s still a tremendous opportunity to get market share, and the price point makes it more accessible to people.”
In a sign of his confidence, the Media Network will start out by selling 5,000 tablets, up from the 2,000 originally planned. If all goes well, the second phase will start the day after Thanksgiving, the kickoff to the holiday shopping season.
“The focus was to come up with a winning strategy with paid content and expand the marketplace as quickly as we could,” he said. “What we basically got is the first tablet offered in America, maybe in the world, with customized, regional content.”
Whether people are enticed by the low tablet price or the newspaper content remains to be seen. That’ll be among the questions Osberg and his team will be looking to answer in follow-up surveys and focus groups of tablet owners.