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Tuesday, 26 January 2010

Tech fans are on the edge of their seats as tomorrow's anticipated news of Apple's new tablet device approaches the desktop. The device is expected to usher in a new era of consumption for media companies.

Journalism.co.uk tells us that The New York Times has made some changes organisationally in advance of the Apple launch, although executives are being coy about the motivations for the steps taken.

On Monday, The Times also announced that its media group division had created a new segment for “reader applications,” and named Yasmin Namini, the senior vice president for marketing and circulation, to head it.

Related news informs us that the newspaper has placed staff in Apple's HQ in order to develop "a large-screen version of the newspaper’s iPhone application that incorporates video for the yet-to-be-unveiled device".

Newspaper companies have signalled obliquely - and sometimes forthrightly - that a new delivery platform could help to offset losses in advertising, by forcing owners of the device to pay for a subscription.

Mobile phone companies have plenty of experience in the fine art of overcharging for enhanced convenience, and newspapers evidently see the potential for profits by placing a premium charge on feed delivered via a mobile platform.

You can bet that media executives attending next month's Media 2010 conference in Sydney would count themselves as tech fans right now. Across the sector, ad spend dropped by 50 per cent from 2000 to 2009.

Even The New York Times cut staff last year, in a moment of drama for media watchers. Whether that moment will be repeated this year is a matter executives, journalists, and editors are eager to know. For the moment, the iTablet holds out the promise of better financial returns.

Maybe, this year, things will start to turn around for newspapers.

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