News Corp's digital newspaper The Daily launches for iPad

In a move that had been widely expected for months, News Corp unveiled its new news effort called "The Daily." The currently iPad-exclusive app would provide a much needed bridge between the declining state of print media and the rising fortunes of online news, the company hopes. The first edition released today at 12pm through the app store.

The Daily also signals an important change in how Apple handles subscriptions: users will be able to do so within an app, and be automatically billed if they request to. Previously, subscriptions were hindered by the cumbersome process of having to manually renew through the App Store itself.

Verizon has said it will subsidize the first two weeks of the paper's release, and thereafter subscriptions would cost 99 cents a week or $39.99 per year. News Corp says that The Daily will be exclusive to Apple "for a few years," but there are plans to bring it to other platforms.

No doubt, doing so would make good business sense: tablets are expected to become a driving force in computing over the next few years. Research firm Forrester says that tablet sales will jump to 44 million units annually by 2015, up from about 10 million in 2010.

By all accounts, Apple holds about three-quarters of this market, making it a logical platform to launch an ambitious effort as The Daily will be. News Corp has already sunk about $30 million into the project, according to CEO Rupert Murdoch, and it is expected to cost about $500,000 per week to operate.

"The iPad demands that we completely re-imagine our craft," Murdoch said at a press event at the Guggenheim Museum in New York Wednesday. "New times demand new journalism."

Indeed, News Corp attempts to break new ground with its offering. While it maintains a somewhat print magazine feel, the text is broken up by a range of multimedia features that show how a medium like tablets may revolutionize the modern newspaper.

Newspaper stalwarts like crossword puzzles, horoscopes, and weather sit side by side with 360-degree panoramic pictures, high definition video, and interactive content that takes advantage of the touch navigation features of the iPad. About 100 pages of content would be produced for The Daily every day, News Corp executives claim.

"It's incredible to believe that something of this production value can be done every single day," Apple iTunes head Eddy Cue said at the event.

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