Apple chief executive Steve Jobs believes developers of newspaper applications on the iPad need to price aggressively and design their apps in ways that cannot be emulated on print.
The comments come as media giant News Corp announced it has recorded 20,000 downloads of its iPad apps, including 4,500 subscriptions to the Australian at $4.99 per month, as the company attempts to increase digital sales.
At the opening of the Wall Street Journal’s D8 conference, Jobs was questioned on a number of topics, addressing the stolen iPhone debacle, the origins of the iPad, and how he feels about newspapers moving subscriptions to the company’s latest gadget.
“I think people are willing to pay for content. I believe it for music and video, and I believe it for the media,” he said.
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The comments come as newspapers and magazines across the world are releasing iPad versions in order to save their publications from falling sales. But Jobs says they will only work if publishers deliver value.
“I can tell you as one of the largest sellers of content on the internet to date – price it aggressively and go for volume. That has worked for us. I’m trying to get the press to do the same thing. They need to do it differently than they do it for print.”
He also said he believes newspapers must survive, saying that “I don’t want to see us descend into a nation of bloggers”.
Additionally, he said publishers of any type of content, whether it be print or video, need to ensure users can have access to that content whenever they like.
“We want to let people watch whatever they want, when they want. That’s what needs to change… It’s happening now. I think that is changing a lot. I even think you’ll be able to watch a first run movie before it hits theatres… if you want to spend a bunch of money.”
Jobs’ comments came just minutes after News Corp’ chairman Rupert Murdoch opened the conference, saying the media giant will be pursuing new technology to sell its various publications.
“I believe technology is ushering in a new golden age for those willing to embrace it,” he said. “(It’s) giving us new ways to showcase our strengths, enhance our coverage and encourage interactivity.”
The company has already sold 20,000 iPad apps of various publications, including The Australian and Wall Street Journal. The latter holds the record at 10,000 downloads with a $21 monthly fee, while The Australian trails with 4,500 downloads and a $4.99 fee.
In Britain, The Times has been downloaded 5,000 times with a $17.65 subscription fee. While analysts say the early figures indicate users are willing to read their news on the iPad, it remains to be seen how many of those subscriptions will remain buyers in the long-term.
The D8 interview with Jobs touched on a number of different topics.
Regarding the company’s battle with Adobe Flash
“Our goal is really easy – we just made a tech decision. We aren’t going to make an effort to put this on our platform. We told Adobe to show us something better, and they never did. It wasn’t until we shipped the iPad that Adobe started to raise a stink about it.”
“We weren’t trying to have a fight, we just decided to not use one of their products. They made a big deal of it – that’s why I wrote that letter. I said enough is enough, we’re tired of these guys trashing us.”
On the leak of the prototype iPhone
“I got a lot of advice from people that said, ‘you’ve gotta just let it slide…You shouldn’t go after a journalist because they bought stolen property and they tried to extort you’… I ended up concluding that the worst thing that could possibly happen… is if we [Apple] change our core values and start letting it slide. I can’t do that; I’d rather quit.”
“This is a story that’s amazing, it’s got theft, it’s got buying stolen property, it’s got extortion, I’m sure there’s sex in there somewhere… somebody should make a movie outta this.”
Where the iPhone OS came from
“It started on a tablet first. I had this idea about having a glass display, a multitouch display you could type on. I asked our people about it. And six months later they came back with this amazing display.”
“And I gave it to one of our really brilliant UI guys. He then got inertial scrolling working and some other things, and I thought, ‘my god, we can build a phone with this’ and we put the tablet aside, and we went to work on the phone.”
On his email battle with a US tech journalist
“He never identified himself as a journalist. I was up late and working and this guy starts sending me obnoxious emails. I’m just enough of a sucker… and he publishes it!”
On the death of PCs
“When we were an agrarian nation, all cars were trucks. I think PCs are going to be like trucks. Less people will need them. And this is going to make some people uneasy.”