The Philadelphia Media Network has had an ambitious summer: in July, the company announced their intention to sell subsidized Android tablets with subscriptions to the digital editions of Philly’s two daily papers. August was presumably spent sourcing hardware and working on the apps, and now that summer is over, PMN is ready to reveal the fruits of their labor.
Unlike Tribune’s plan to have a tablet made specifically for their newspapers, PMN chose from readily available tablets and went with the Arnova 10 G2. While the no-name brand implies cheapo Android tab roots, Arnova tablets are actually made by venerable PMP manufacturer Archos. No mention of device specs were made in the announcement, but a little digging reveals that it packs a 1 GHz processor, 512 MB of RAM, and a 10-inch (duh) display running at 1024 by 600. The Arnova 10 G2 also runs on Gingerbread, which is a bit of a heartbreak for Philadelphians looking for some inexpensive Honeycomb love.
PMN is offering the Arnova on two contract tiers: those who want read the Inquirer and the Daily News for two years play $99 for the tablet, and a $10/mo subscription fee. People who would rather keep their contract terms as short as possible can ink a one year deal for $13/mo, and pay $129 for the tab. The total outlay comes out to $339 on a two year term, and $285 on a one year, so please Philadelphia — just get the one year subscription.
The apps in question are full digital replicas of the Inquirer and the Daily News, and subscribers are also given access to a multimedia app that expands the news experience with photo galleries and videos. Considering that getting both dailies on your doorstep (including Sundays) for a year would easily cost over $500 a year, the deal looks mighty sweet, even with slightly lackluster hardware.
It’s a gutsy move for the Philadelphia Media Network (they are the first to officially commit to a tablet venture), and maybe one that’s necessary in light of recent trends. With newspapers losing readers to always-on news sources, providing that same kind of real time access to their content means that PMN’s papers can continue to fight for relevance. There are 5,000 tablets waiting to ship to subscribers as soon as tomorrow, and if the first wave goes well, PMN will try and expand the program further on Black Friday 2011.