In his new biography of Steve Jobs
, Walter Isaacson describes some of the behind-the-scenes dealings between the Apple CEO and publishers after the iPad was launched in 2010. "I would love to help quality journalism," Jobs said. "We can't depend on bloggers for our news. We need real reporting and editorial oversight more than ever. So I'd love to find a way to help people create digital products where they actually can make money."
As part of that effort, Jobs dined with 50 top Times executives to show off the iPad and, as Isaacson put it, “find a modest price point for digital content that consumers would accept.” He said the Times knew how many readers would pay the highest price point (a print subscription), and how many would read for free online.
“You should go after the midpoint, which is about 10 million digital subscribers,” [Jobs] told them. “And that means your digital subs should be very cheap and simple, one click and $5 a month at most.”
The Times decided to charge $15 every four weeks for Web and mobile phone access and $20 for Web and iPad access.
According to Isaacson, Jobs was particularly interested in helping The New York Times because it hadn't yet figured out how to charge for digital content.
"One of my personal projects this year, I've decided, is to try to help — whether they want it or not — the Times," he told me early in 2010. "I think it's important for the country for them to figure it out."
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