Apple chief believes people will pay for online news

Apple chief executive Steve Jobs said he believes that democracy hinges on a healthy press and that people will pay for news delivered on iPads and other Internet-linked gadgets.

"I don't want to see us descend into a nation of bloggers," Jobs said Tuesday during an on-stage interview at an All Things Digital conference in the Southern California coastal town of Rancho Palos Verdes.

"One of my beliefs very strongly is that any democracy depends on a free, healthy press."

Jobs said he is "all for" anything Apple can do to help news gathering organizations find new ways of expressing themselves and getting paid so they can keep news gathering operations intact.

Apple's vision for its iPad tablet computers includes the devices serving as Digital Age platforms on which newspapers and magazines can build profitable new business models.

"We all know what has happened to the economics of those businesses, and some of them are in real trouble," Jobs said of traditional journalism operations.

"This is a potential opportunity to provide even more value than just a Web page and start to charge a little bit for that. I think people are willing to pay for content. I believe in media and I believe in news content."

Jobs had some advice for news operations regarding how to wring revenue out of stories hawked online.

"Price it aggressively and go for volume," Jobs said. "I'm trying to get these folks to take more aggressive postures than what they charge traditionally for print."

Apple, now the largest US technology company by stock market value, said Monday it had sold two million of its iPad tablet computers, outdoing even the iconic iPhone on its launch.

Apple said it had sold 1.4 million iPads since it went on sale exclusively in the United States on April 3.

On Friday, the iPad - a flat, 10-inch (25-centimeter) black tablet computer that Apple claims will revolutionize the industry - went on sale in Australia, Japan, Canada, Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Spain and Switzerland.

Demand in the United States was so strong that the company pushed back the global roll-out.

The iPad goes on sale in nine additional countries in July, including Austria, Belgium, Ireland, Luxembourg and the Netherlands.

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