In September, the Philadelphia Media Network–parent company of the Philadelphia Inquirer, Philadelphia Daily News and Philly.com–announced a special offer: The first 5,000 subscribers to its new newspaper apps would have the chance to buy a discounted Android tablet. Six weeks in, only about half the tablets have sold. Philadelphia Media Network CEO and publisher Gregory Osberg had predicted at launch that all of the tablets would sell out within a week.
“In the exuberance of the promotion, I got a little bit carried away,” Osberg tells the Los Angeles Times, but he still predicts the venture will be profitable in two years.
The tablet is an Arnova G2, made by French company Archos. Subscriptions to the Philadelphia Media Network’s apps (an Inquirer Android App, Inquirer Digital Edition app and Daily News Digital Edition app) normally cost $12.99 per month. Customers who sign up for a two-year subscription to the apps, for $9.99 per month, can get a tablet for $99. Customers who sign up for a one-year subscription to the apps, for $12.99 per month, can get a tablet for $129.
The PMN Facebook page contains some comments from readers who did sign up for the tablet offer. Many were seeking help from customer service: “I can find no answer on the forum on why my subscriptions take hours to downlaod, or just plain don’t,” one user wrote. Another wrote, “Could you have someone contact me about my broken tablet?” Other users liked the tablet–“Mine works well. My Seeing Eye pup likes the audio too”–but it remains to be seen whether enough of them will buy it to make the venture worth it. Other media companies considering their own tablets, like the Tribune Company, might want to play the wait-and-see game–especially with Amazon’s Kindle Fire launching in just about two weeks.