Chicago publisher planning a free or subsidized tablet for subscribers, modified Android OS likely

Los Angeles Times on the Apple iPad

The L.A. Times is available on the Apple iPad tablet.

A tablet can make for a good e-reader device for those not partial to devices like the Amazon Kindle. Publishers have realized this and launched digital editions of their content for tablets through services like Zinio or through their own tablet applications.

Some publishers feel that offering digital editions of their newspapers or magazines is enough, but some aren’t convinced that’s all they need to do.

Last month alone the Philadelphia Media Network, the publisher behind the Philadelphia Inquirer and Philadelphia Daily newspapers, announced that they were looking into offering a tablet of their own that would offer subscribers easier and more tailored access to their publications. The Philadelphia Media Network said they would offer their tablet subsidized and ad-support to their readers.

Today on Tuesday August 8th, 2011 the Tribune Co. was fingered in a new rumor as another publisher looking to create their own tablet for their readers. According to CNN sources close to the project have leaked that the Tribune Co. is planning to launch a tablet that’s free with a lengthy subscription to their newspapers or subsidized with a data plan from a U.S. carrier.

The tablet is said to run on a modified version of Google’s open-source Android operating system. The tablet will come with software that provides users with their hometown newspaper.

The Tribune Co. currently owns and publishes ten daily newspapers and tabloid magazines. The publications include; Chicago Tribune, Los Angeles Times, Hartford Courant, Orlando Sentinel, South Florida Sun-Sentinel, Baltimore Sun, Daily Press and The Morning Call.

According to the anonymous sources familiar with this tablet project the tablet is coming along but “They’re having to reinvent man wheels,” one source told CNN. I wouldn’t be surprised if that’s true, getting a tablet together isn’t easy. The anonymous source went on to say, “If it turns out to be a failure, it’ll be a fantastically interesting failure”.

CNN didn’t report on any specifications for the tablet except for a modified Android OS. At this time it’s not even clear how large the display will be on this rumored tablet; 7-inches, 8.9-inches, 9.7-inches, or 10.1-inches? You won’t get those details from the Tribune Co. they have declined to comment on this report.

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