rupertmurdoch1_thumb[1] Reuters has heard from an anonymous source that Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp has backburnered “Project Alesia”, its plan to create an on-line newsstand that would charge users for newspaper and magazine content. According to the source, News Corp was not able to get enough publishers to support the plan to make it tenable, and staff working on the project will be reassigned.

The service is reportedly not entirely cancelled, but is not “on the fast track” any longer—News Corp may sell the technology or launch it at a later date. Reuters says that News Corp has declined to comment.

skiff[1] This may represent the end of the legacy of the Skiff. The 11.5” Skiff was one of the early crop of e-ink readers, announced at about the same time as Plastic Logic’s similarly-sized Que, but the hardware platform was cancelled after it was bought by News Corp back in June. News Corp just wanted the software platform for use in its own digital paper project—which would seem to be Project Alesia.

Reuters reports that publishers were spectacularly unimpressed by News Corp’s pitch, which seemed to involve similar terms to those offered by Apple’s digital newsstand that publishers are also finding objectionable—News Corp would keep a cut of the revenue, and would retain control over customer data.

One publisher described the pitch as "lame." Another newspaper publisher executive said they did not take the offer seriously.

And so Rupert Murdoch, champion of the paywall, stumbles on another attempt to charge for digital newspaper content. Of course, charging for content on the web and on a tablet are not precisely equivalent, but they do share the similarity of asking people to pay for what they can get elsewhere for free. Perhaps Apple might be able to pull it off, but Apple has a lot better reputation than News Corp when it comes to portable digital devices.

(Found via Gizmodo.)


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