I couldn't agree more with Techcrunch in their article "Murdoch's New iPaper – One Last Tragic Roll of the Digital Dice". Rupert's latest idea of a digital newspaper, designed for the iPad and on subscription only, is doomed to oblivion. Only last month Murdoch's News International closed down the free websites of The Times and The Sunday Times in favour of a subscription-based iPad-friendly edition. According to TechCrunch, this forward-looking initiative has produced only "disappointing" results. And that's on the first month of subscriptions; there is bound to be a severe attrition in revenues as subscribers get sick of paying for what is free elsewhere on the net.
As far as I'm concerned, I will read free stuff until there is nothing free worth reading. Currently there are several national newspapers in the UK that provide as good, if not better, coverage that The Times. I tried the Financial Times iPad edition for a month. It's ok, but I won't be paying. Nor will I be paying for The Economist on a regular basis after trying out the free come-on subscription. The BBC news site, which is unlikely to be able to charge for access (because it is a public service, funded by the taxpayer), will be there even if all the other national newspapers erect their pay walls.
Newspaper publishers, threshing around for an answer to free internet news, seem to be convinced that people will pay £300 or more per annum to read their stories online. I remain sceptical. I wonder how long it will be before the pioneers of pay-to-read accept that they have shot themselves in their collective foot.