Times consortium, including News Corp, Meredith, Hearst and Conde Nast, have confirmed suspected plans to develop digital newsstands as rumours solidify around Apples tablet.

The group confirm the move comes as preparation for redesigning their print titles for ebooks and tablet computers. The reimagined titles will derive profit from both print subscriptions and advertising sales.
The group, led by Time executive John Squires, will also seek to develop a common reading application and publishing platform usable on multiple devices, screen sizes and operating systems.

Although the group claims to represent an audience of 144.6 million, they hope other publishers will allow their content to be included once the platform is developed.
The news comes as Huffington Post founder, Arianna Huffington, claimed New Ltd chairman Rupert Murdoch lacks fundamental understanding of the web and leaks around Apples tablet intensify.

Speaking at a Washington conference, Huffington said:

So now sites that aggregate the news have become, in the words of Rupert Murdoch and his team, ‘parasites’, ‘content kleptomaniacs,’ ‘vampires,’ ‘tech tapeworms in the intestines of the Internets’, and, of course, thieves who ‘steal all our copyright… In most industries, if your customers were leaving in droves, you would try to figure out what to do to get them back. Not in the media. Theyd rather accuse aggregators of stealing their content.

Huffington continued, indicating that most publishers with a digital presence understand the value of the link economy and that the Huffington Post got hundreds of link requests from news outlets.

They understand that the web is not a zero-sum game and that consumers love the freedom to be able to follow where their interests – and the offshoots of a story – take them, she said.

AppleInsider reported checks within Apples supply chain seem to indicate a March/April 2010 launch for the potentially media game changing device.

Yair Reiner, analyst at Oppenheimer, said Apple was approaching book publishers with a proposal for offering content on an ebook platform.

Our checks into Apples supply chain indicate the manufacturing cogs for the tablet are creaking into action and should begin to hit a mass market stride in February. At this stage Apple appears to be sizing its supply chain to support production of as many as one million units per month, said Reiner in a note to investors.

According to the note, the revenue split would be 30/70 in publishers favour.