Looks like good sense has prevailed. Media giant News Corp, despite persistent rumors to the contrary, is not planning to unleash a competitor to Amazon’s Kindle, CEO Rupert Murdoch said in an interview with the company’s Fox Business. He is leaving the device business to those who know it best — device makers. When asked by Stuart Varney, a Fox anchor, if the company was going to get into the hardware business with an electronic reader, Murdoch said:
I don’t think that’s likely. We’re looking and talking to a lot of laboratories and big companies around the world like Sony, Fujitsu, Samsung. We’re all working on wireless readers for books or for newspapers or for magazines.
I think they’re a year or two away, being marketed in a mass way, high-quality ones. And we will be absolutely neutral. We’re very happy to have our products distributed over any device provided it’s only going to subscribers who are paying for it.
In May, The Daily Beast reported that News Corp had put together a team that was looking to come up with a way to charge for online content, including building hardware to consume it.
The source tells me that this team is “personally run and overseen” by Murdoch, 78. Murdoch has enlisted the aid of a longtime trusted lieutenant, Les Hinton, now CEO of Dow Jones, which News Corp. took over in 2007, and Murdoch’s youngest son and heir-apparent, James, 36, the London-based CEO of News Corp.’s Asian and European operations since late 2007.
Good luck with that, Mr. Murdoch. The decision to not build a device is a smart one; the company can benefit from working with as many partners as it wants to encourage the use of its content. Now what are the odds that other newspaper companies will suddenly rethink their plans for Kindle competitors?