Murdoch preps The Australian as a paid app for the iPad

Publishers have been talking up the iPad as a savour for digital publishing and now one of them – Rupert Murdoch no less – is making a move into putting paid content onto Apple’s touchscreen tablet in time for its Aussie debut.

A report in today’s issue of The Australian confirms that the paper will be available through a dedicated app “to coincide with the launch of the device or as near as we can do it in Australia” according to Grant Holloway managing editor online for The Australian.

The paper’s deputy chief executive Nick Leeder had said the app would probably be charged as a monthly subscription noting that “we are very likely to charge and will choose to carry advertising”.

News Ltd’s Wall Street Journal already offers an iPad edition which is free to download but requires a monthly subscription of US$17.30 (A$18.55)

Rupert Murdoch was among the first publishers to be wooed by Steve Jobs in the period leading up to the iPad’s launch and he sees the iPad as a cornerstone of online publishing in the post-Web era moving away from the concept that content must be free and embracing paywalls and other cost-recovery models.

While Apple has not announced the iPad’s local release date Saturday April 24th has been tipped by several sources.