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Spanish daily subsidizes tablet computers, expert "uncertain" it will attract young readers

Spanish daily subsidizes tablet computers, expert "uncertain" it will attract young readers

Valentina Gimenez | January 25, 2012

Madrid daily El País is the latest newspaper to offer cut-rate tablet computers to readers.

For about a third of the retail price, readers can buy the Airis OnePad 970. The Android tablet comes preloaded with content, including a free one-month subscription to the El País app.

In an article publicizing the initiative, the paper called Google's operating system Android's growth "unstoppable" and responsible for boosting the popularity of mobile content.

"They want to be the first to offer this kind of initiative as a way to capture a new audience of younger people who will become interested in news," Manuel Frascaroli, a journalist and media expert based in Cordoba, Argentina, told IJNet.

Frascaroli says the paper will "expand its base of readers, especially with new users accustomed to the latest gadgets and devices...it may also provide positive brand attributes, being close to users by providing the latest technology."

Other newspapers have offered tablet deals to readers, including the The Philadelphia Media Network Company which subsidized Android tablets, preloaded with four apps including digital versions of its two newspapers, The Inquirer and Daily News.

According to Fascaroli, with the tablet initiative El País wants to solidify its popularity after taking traffic hits due to an online paywall. After years of being the second most visited site, the paper regained first place as the most-read news site in Spain. In December 2011, the site had 7.7 million readers. The current El País strategy combines free and paid content. The print newspaper and tablet app are paid; online and mobile content are free.

Frascaroli is "uncertain" about the long-term benefits of pairing tablets and print.

The paper "continues its fall, slowly but surely, perhaps this is will become the cornerstone for mobile platforms where they can look for new revenue streams that can provide profitability for the company," Frascaroli said.

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