Bloomberg Ready With Free-Content iPad App

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An image of the Bloomberg iPhone app. Photo: itunes.com

Anticipating that finance professionals, and business professionals in general, will be primary users of the iPad when it first launches this weekend, both WSJ.com and Bloomberg have submitted apps to be available on the iTunes store when the devices first become available. And instead of agonizing over finding a fresh new way to address iPad users, like some other old-school media outlets, Bloomberg has tweaked the app it already has available for the iPhone in order to ensure a relatively painless transition. And unlike most other media outlets, Bloomberg will be offering their content on the iPad for free.

The Bloomberg iPad app, which we have seen, will be available for download on iTunes if all goes according to plans — and it will provide stock information, indexes, podcasts, charts, up-to-date currency exchanges, access to Bloomberg News stories, and personalization for users' own finances. There will be no charge for any content. "We have TV, radio, print, Bloomberg.com, and mobile," a source who worked with the developers of the app told us. "This is one more device that is coming out that we will be ready for." It's similar to the iPhone app, with some improvements. Meanwhile, we hear the Journal's iPad app has significant changes from the iPhone app, but still keeps much content behind a pay wall. To access all of the Journal's content on the iPad, you'll need to plunk down $3.99 a week.

To compare these to some examples from the rest of the news field, Reuters will be providing its content for free through an advertiser-sponsored app, and the New York Times has its own app that mimics (and enhances) the experience of reading the print newspaper. So does Time, whose iPad "issues," at $4.95, will cost the same as print ones. It hasn't been revealed yet whether the Times will charge for content on the iPad right away, or will move to a metered system when nytimes.com does. (New York will have an iPad version that will come at a cost per issue, as well, in the weeks after the iPad launches.)

According to Gawker, several Condé Nast titles (GQ, Wired, The New Yorker, Vanity Fair and Glamour) are working on apps that will not only mimic a magazine interface (also at a price per issue) but will provide another step in their content's journey from print to web. First articles will appear in print. Then, they will appear on the iPad. And then, only after that, they'll hit the Internet for all to see for free. USA Today will have an app that provides free content, but only for the first 90 days. The Financial Times is following that same trajectory, with three months free before erecting a metered pay wall.

There's been a lot of talk about how to use the iPad to best showcase the content of one news organization or another — but when the device becomes available on April 3, these apps aren't going to exist in a vacuum. We'll see then how much customers are willing to pay to get information on their tablets.