Tribune plans to offer the tablet for free, or at a highly subsidized price, to people who agree to sign up for extended subscriptions to one of its papers, according to people briefed on the project. Tribune CEO Eddy Hartenstein, a longtime technologist who founded DirecTV, is said to be the tablet's biggest advocate. ("It's Eddy's baby," says a source.) But Tribune employees and executives who spoke to CNN's Mark Millan on the condition of anonymity were split on their optimism for the project. "I would be shocked if it was successful," says one. Millan writes:

The project has proved to be a more complicated undertaking than expected. Tribune had set a mid-August deadline to begin testing the tablet in Chicago and Southern California, but it will miss that target, said three of the people. "They're having to reinvent many wheels," said a person familiar with the matter. "If it turns out to be a failure, it'll be a fantastically interesting failure."

The Philadelphia Inquirer and Daily News parent announced last month that it will start selling Android tablets pre-loaded with apps for the two newspapers.