News Corp. chairman Rupert Murdoch used a media event in Sydney, Australia today to once again state how important he thinks iPads and other tablets are to the future of publishing, though he declined to give accurate numbers of sales of his paid apps.

He did, however, confirm News Corp. to have “tens of thousands” of readers for its Wall Street Journal, The Times and Australian iPhone apps, and observed.

“It looks like they [Apple] will sell around 15m iPads this calendar year and more than 40m by 2012. And the iPad is just one of many tablet or slate computers in the pipeline. News Corp fully intends to be across all those platforms too.”

Calling his move to put popular publications behind paywalls online, “the start of a new business model for the internet”, Murdoch observed: “The argument that information wants to be free is only said by those who want it for free.”

Murdoch likes the iPad for its design, for its users who are already comfortable with making purchases online via iTunes and the efficiency of its walled garden, says The Guardian.

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