Is the New York Times' decision to charge for online content related to the impending release of the Apple Tablet?

The New York Times is reportedly considering a plan whereby it would start charging users to access their online content. Could this move be tied to the upcoming Apple Tablet?

The New York Times is reportedly considering a plan whereby it would start charging users to access their online content, an interesting move considering that that business model has never seemed to work - unless you happen to be the Wall Street Journal. According to a recent report in New York Magazine, the higher-ups at the New York Times will soon announce a metered system for their online content, which would enable users to read a pre-determined number of articles for free before being forced to ante up to continue.

Now here's where things get interesting.

Remember that Steve Jobs will reportedly introduce an Apple's Tablet in about 9 days, and one of the rumored features of the device will be e-publishing, with a new and unique way to digest both newspapers and magazines. Still, no matter how stylish the UI on the upcoming Tablet may be for accessing print media, you simply can't compete with free, and some are therefore theorizing that the New York Times is planning a "content partnership for the new [tablet], which could dovetail with the paid strategy."

The New York Times, naturally, refused to confirm or deny the report, with Times spokeswoman Diane McNulty stating, "We'll announce a decision when we believe that we have crafted the best possible business approach. No details till then."

Over the past few months, a number of reports have hinted that Apple is aggressively looking to strike deals with a wide array of publishers, from magazines to big-time Textbook publishers like McGraw Hill. Also, Gizmodo reported a few months ago that they received information from 2 sources with ties to the Times that the paper had been "approached by Apple to talk about putting the paper on a ‘new device.”

And interestingly enough, it wasn't that long ago that an NYT executive made reference to an "Apple Slate" when discussing the Times' strategy of delivering content across a number of media platforms.

We need to figure out the right journalistic product to deliver to mobile platforms and devices. I’m hoping we can get the newsroom more actively involved in the challenge of delivering our best journalism in the form of Times Reader, iPhone apps, WAP, or the impending Apple slate, or whatever comes after that.

Also, remember that whenever Steve Jobs uses the web as part of a demonstration, such as when he first introduced the iPhone, he always visits the New York Times.

So what can we take from this? Well, each piece by itself may not be too revealing, but taken together, a content deal between the New York Times and Apple doesn't seem that far fetched at all.

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