Murdoch’s Daily adds iPhone app: lower price, some free stories

The Daily, which launched in early 2011 as a tablet tabloid available only on the iPad, finally is adding an iPhone (s aapl) edition, with Android handsets to follow. The new app includes some free stories but readers will have to subscribe at $1.99 a month or $19.99  a year to get full access. That’s half the price of the tablet edition.

The addition gives the News Corp. (s nws) startup its best chance for a burst of new subscribers in potentially meaningful numbers. The Daily said it had 100,000 paid subscribers in January; it’s going to need more than that to move from interesting experiment to profitable. Unlike the others, this subscription doesn’t come with a free trial. Instead, it’s a freemium model.

Current Daily subscribers can add the iPhone version at no extra cost. It should expand the amount of time they can spend on the “paper”;  at least, that will be the case for me as a subscriber now that I can check in on a story while waiting in line.

The Daily, started out as an iPad-only app, envisioned by News Corp. Chairman and CEO Rupert Murdoch and nurtured by Steve Jobs. An Android edition launched in January but is available only on a couple of Verizon Samsung tablets. It’s pre-loaded so subscribers don’t have to seek it out. The Verizon version also has a slightly different sales strategy — monthly or annual versus weekly autorenewal or annual subscriptions.

I’m told the Android  handset version is “coming soon” and will be open, not limited to Verizon (which was The Daily’s launch sponsor). That will leave the web as the only major platform without a subscription option.