Some 'What Will Become of Newspapers?' thinkers believe that the iTunes model is the future of the news business. Well, with one software upgrade, paid news is now an iPhone app! Will this matter?

If you read Gizmodo, you know Apple released an iPhone software upgrade today, which includes this news-y feature:

The new software will also give developers new ways to make money on the device, allowing them to sell monthly subscriptions, new levels in a game or items in an online store without asking users to leave the application. So for example a seller of electronic books on the iPhone can sell digital texts right within its application, instead of directing iPhone users to their Web sites.

So: if the New York Times, for example, decided to start charging for its online content, it could sell its subscriptions just like an iPhone app. Those things sell pretty well, I hear! Iphone users seem like the types who wouldn't mind paying a few bucks a month to read the New Yorker, or Vogue, or, I don't know, Wired on their digital contraptions, if the publications packaged their offers well.

At least iPhone users are more primed to pay for content than the internet community at large. So while this isn't quite a full-blown iTunes model for news—which would probably fail—it could be a good indicator of how much cash mobile news is potentially worth. More than 17 million iPhones have been sold so far; if even a million of those belonged to people willing to pay $5 a month for a news subscription, it could mean... hardly enough to save the old media. But enough to save some media jobs! [Pic via]

[Disclaimer: I am not Owen Thomas, technology expert.]