As the iPad slowly siphons away newspaper customers tired of getting ink on their hands, newspapers themselves have been quick to launch attractive official apps in the hope of winning back readers who are looking for reliable sources of information. Today the Washington Post joins the charge as it has released an official iPad app. Best of all, it's free well into next year.
The app's description invites users to "Get closer to the story with our Live Topics feature. It combines the best coverage of the most talked-about news of the day with social media conversations from Twitter and Facebook. Enjoy rich photo galleries with work from our renowned photojournalists and extensive video content so you can go deeper into every angle of every story. Download stories to read later, even when you are offline. "
Those who download the app now will enjoy a free subscription to the Post until February 2011, at which point a subscription will be required. No pricing model has yet been announced, but it's likely that the Post will offer monthly and yearly subscriptions, and may even charge by the article for those who only want access to a specific piece of journalism.
The Post's move follows in the footsteps of the New York Times and New York Post, both of which have launched a similar service. Indeed, this approach tends to be the wave of the future, and it seems that the newsstand has gone virtual, with all the major outlets flocking to the iPad in the hopes of saving themselves from extinction. In a delicious twist that not even M. Night Shyamalan could have come up with, it may indeed be that one of the very devices which was accused or ruining the newspaper industry could actually save it. The newspaper is dead, long live the e-newspaper!