Mobile carriers have been subsidizing handset purchases for many years, but now a content company is trying the model. Philadelphia Media Network, the publisher of The Philadelphia Inquirer and Philly.com, is offering the first 5,000 comers a $99 10.1-inch Android-powered tablet if they commit to a two-year digital subscription to the Inquirer and Philadelphia Daily News .
The price of the device is bumped up to $129 if the customer opts for a one-year subscription. The two-year sub will run $9.99 a month and the one-year sub will be $12.99. Either way, the deal nearly gives the tablet away in order to get a subscriber on board.
The tablet itself is made by Arnova and runs the Gingerbread version of the Google OS, optimized for tablets. The tablet comes bundled with the newly launched Inquirer app for Android, as well as apps that access a digital replica of the daily print edition of both newspapers.
Sponsors Main Line Health, Comcast and Wells Fargo are also part of the effort, although Main Line Health appears to be the only one with a pre-loaded app.
The tablet and subscription bundles will be offered on a first-come, first-serve basis via a toll free numbers and the PhillyTablets.com site.
This is not the first instance of a recent mobile device subsidized by a publisher or retailer. Amazon issued a special edition of its Kindle e-reader -- Kindle with Special Offers -- which brought the price of the device down to $114 in exchange for ads running during screen idle times.