The New York Times today updated its app for Apple's iPad, and said it would start charging readers for access to the digital content early next year.
On Thursday, the rival New York Post released its own iPad app, and began offering $75 annual subscriptions.
Unlike the Editor's Choice application that it replaced, the new NYTimes for iPad software lets registered users browse and read articles and blogs from more than 25 sections of the newspaper. The Editor's Choice app offered only selected content from a few sections.
Registration is currently free, but access will come with a cost in early 2011, when the app transitions to a paid model, the newspaper said. A spokeswoman for the Times declined to discuss subscription prices, saying that the paper would release those at a later date.
The New York Times currently offers an electronic edition for $240 a year for all issues, or $180 a year for five-day-per-week delivery.
On Thursday, the New York Post, which is owned by Rupert Murdoch's News Corp., issued a $1.99 iPad program that provides a free 30-day trial to the paper's digital edition. After the trial, users will have to subscribe at prices ranging from $7 per month to $75 per year.
The Post's iPad edition includes access to some of the physical paper's content, including the news, Page Six, opinion, sports, and business sections.
Last January, the New York Times announced that in early 2011 it would launch what it described as a "metered model" for the company's popular Web site. Under the plan, readers would have access to a fixed number of articles per month, but would have to pay to read more. The U.K.'s Financial Times uses a similar model.
The Times' new iPad app and its plans to put tablet content behind a pay wall is part of that earlier-announced initiative.
It's unclear whether readers, who with a few exceptions have free access to news on the Internet, will pay for online access to newspapers on their computer screens or on a mobile device such as an iPad or smartphone.
According to a Nielsen survey late last year, only 42% of global consumers have paid, or said they would be willing to pay, for online access to newspapers. Generally, said Nielsen, consumers are more likely to spend money on content they already pay for -- such as music, movies and games -- than they are on what they currently get for free.
Gregg Keizer covers Microsoft, security issues, Apple, Web browsers and general technology breaking news for Computerworld. Follow Gregg on Twitter at @gkeizer or subscribe to Gregg's RSS feed . His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.