About four years ago I recall having conversations with other newspaper IT folks and I was a big advocate for newspapers to give away iPhones as part of prepaid one-year the subscriptions. People responded with a raised eyebrow, but they thought the the idea was too expensive.
At that that time, iPhones were too expensive for most of the regular population — but my idea was that the newspapers were spending hundreds of bucks in advertising to attract subscribers, and once they got someone signed up, the retention figures weren’t very good. And certainly at that time (and probably now) a pre-paid year-long subscription was a rare thing.
“Just think of the loyalty, the national publicity this would generate,” I said.
Well, of course that never happened. In the meanwhile, circulation at most papers either continues on a decline or has be flat.
Now comes the Philadelphia Inquirer with “My Idea” version two. Only they’re selling Androids at a deeply discounted 50 percent off to those who sign up for a new sub.
Of course I’ve moved on. “My Idea” version three is still a giveaway — but this time it’s, of course, the iPad.
I’m thinking that my good friend Steve Jobs would give us a healthy discount on several thousand iPads — of which we’d pass along the saving to our readers — well, most of our savings — and again, this would be tied to a full-year subscription.
Of course, there should be some newspaper branding — either through a preloaded newspaper app or gasp! some sort of branding on the case — maybe a custom cover?