New York Times
publisher Arthur Sulzberger Jr. may foresee a time when his paper may no longer appear as a physical product
, but Frank A. Bennack Jr., the vice chairman and CEO of Hearst Corp., is more sanguine about the future of dead-tree newspapers. "They'll be around as ink and paper for as long as the eye can see," Bennack said Monday in an interview at the Internet Advertising Bureau's MIXX Conference
. "Newspapers are starting to solve the problem of a business model that needs to be retooled," he said. Hearst's papers include the Houston Chronicle
, San Francisco Chronicle
and Albany Times-Union
Although Hearst is hard at work developing new products for the iPad and other mobile devices -- the company just named its first advertising director of tablet media
and announced an "innovation initiative"
-- Bennack does not foresee such devices becoming the dominant vehicle for newspapers. "My view is maybe as high as 25 or 30 percent of newspaper consumption will be on the new devices," he said.
He predicted that newspaper publishers will reach a workable agreement with Apple (AAPL) about how to sell subscriptions to app-based editions through iTunes. Currently, Apple is pushing a plan that would give it a large cut of subscription revenues while depriving publishers of the customer data that they need to sell advertising effectively.
"My own belief is [Apple is] very smart. They need content for these devices," Bennack said. "We'll work out a method of working together. We obviously want to be able to put our content on every conceivable platform."