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from the L.A. Times

Philadelphia newspaper group to launch Android tablet [Video]

Screen shot 2011-07-12 at 8.42.44 AM

Philadelphia's two largest newspapers -- the Philadelphia Inquirer and the Philadelphia Daily News -- are planning on launching a low-priced Android tablet for subscribers later this year.

Greg Osberg, chief executive of the Philadelphia Media Group, which is the company that oversees both papers and their joint website Philly.com, said in announcing the plan that the move to bundle tablets with content from a newspaper company will be the first of its kind, according to a report from Philly.com.

The tablets will be "deeply discounted" and run on Google's Android operating system -- which is the most popular mobile OS and something Google gives away for free. Each tablet will come with four applications already installed that will be for reading and viewing news content from the two newspapers and Philly.com.

Osberg met Philadelphia Media Group employees at a printing plant Monday and said the tablets would "break ground in the industry, which has been struggling to maintain revenues as consumers gradually shift their reading preferences from print publications to computers, smartphones and other digital devices," Philly.com reported

The chief executive also announced a "new media-technology incubator" that will be started at the company's headquarters that will be funded in part by a $250,000 grant from the Knight Foundation, Philly.com reported. Both the tablets and the incubator are part of what the Philadelphia Media Group is calling the Project Liberty Initiative.

The tablet announcement comes about a year after the Philadelphia Media Group emerged from bankruptcy, PCMag.com noted.

The main idea here is that fewer people are reading the physical paper, more people are reading online and tablets are a device that more and more people using to read, surf the Web and engage with apps, games and news.

By selling the tablet itself at a lower price and offering discounted digital subscriptions, the Philadelphia Media Group is looking to both tap into the growing tablet market and the success of Google's Android OS, as well as cultivate a new generation of readers -- people who otherwise likely wouldn't subscribe to a daily paper.

Osberg, in a video posted to YouTube by the blog Liliputing, says about the project that getting readers back to a paid model from a free-app and free-website model is key in making the tablet venture work.

"First of all we wanted to preserve paid content," Osberg said in the video. "There are a lot of media companies that are offering up apps now -- whether Apple apps or Android apps, they're free. And that was a trap we didn't want to fall into because the print world fell into that trap when the Internet was created because we all gave our content away for free.

"So the main thing was we wanted to preserve paid content on any platform that we go forward with."

Osberg also said in the video that the company plans to launch a "beta test" of the tablets to a small number of consumers in August and see what readers like and don't like, before a larger launch of the tablet in November on Black Friday, the huge shopping day after Thanksgiving.

Pricing, length of subscriptions required, screen size and other physical details, and even who will make the tablet -- all those details were left out of Osberg's announcement Monday.

Check out the YouTube video of Osberg announcing the tablets below.

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-- Nathan Olivarez-Giles

Twitter.com/nateog

Image: A screenshot from a video of Philadelphia Media Group Chief Executive Greg Osberg announcing the newspaper publisher's plans to launch an Android-based tablet later this year. Credit: BradLinder/Lilpunting/YouTube

 
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