In a sign of how seriously publishers view the ramifications of the new wave of tablet computers, the Financial Times told its roughly 1,800 staffers they would receive a bonus of around $480 to purchase an iPad or similar tablet computer. That comes to $864,000 to equip the entire company with the latest in mobile computing technology.
In a memo to staff, FT Group CEO John Ridding explained: "The FT is making this investment because digital channels and tablet devices are becoming increasingly important for us and the media industry in general." He added that the subsidy is also "a recognition of your contribution to our strong performance this year."
FT was among the first newspaper publishers to launch a dedicated iPad app. Since it launched in May, a month after the iPad's high-profile debut, the FT app has attracted over 400,000 users and earned over $1.6 million from advertising sales, according to the company.
Earlier this month, The Washington Post introduced a new app, which includes a subscription option costing $3.99 per month for readers who don't subscribe to the print edition. Print subscribers can access the digital subscription on their iPad for $0.99 a month -- assuming they are willing to pay an extra dollar for the added convenience.
In September, rumors circulated that Apple was planning to partner with major publishers to offer paid digital newspaper subscriptions, but little has been heard about these plans. When the iPad launched in April, USA Today offered free digital subscriptions with support from corporate sponsors.
Apple has shipped around 7.4 million iPads since the device went on sale in April. Analysts predict total sales of 10.7 million by year's-end. Estimates for 2011 iPad sales have ranged from 21 million to 40 million.