There currently exists a major void in access to the Internet. For those who like to read, there is nothing as convenient as a newspaper; it's the perfect size and it's portable. Most Internet browsing screens are either too small or they're stationary. The iPhone screen is not the ideal size on which to read a periodical. I'm good for 10 minutes of reading on the iPhone screen; anything more is too much for my eyes. It's great as a quick reference, but it is primarily a phone (perhaps that is why Apple (AAPL) is rumored to be downsizing the iPhone screen size for its Verizon (VZ) release in mid 2010).
My laptop has a good-sized screen, but the clunky keyboard and lack of mobile Internet access make it hard to use as a portable newspaper replacement. Apple's coming Tablet will fill a niche. Users will be able to take it on the subway, take it in the car, take it on the back porch, take it to breakfast, take it to the pool, take it wherever you would normally go to read a magazine or newspaper.
In an interview with Fox Business News, Rupert Murdoch went so far as to say that the future of the newspaper business is in electronic subscriptions on products like an Apple Tablet. (Editor's note: Various news reports this morning said that Apple will delay the rollout of the Tablet until the second half of 2010.)The Google (GOOG) era of getting everything for free appears likely to end as well -- as it should. Good publications deserve to make profits on their work. I'm sure we'll see iTunes and the App Store expand to a selective subscription model that caters to the needs of readers. Leave it to Steve Jobs to make this work.
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