Media magnate Rupert Murdoch hailed Apple chief executive Steve Jobs on Wednesday, saying there was "not much doubt" he was the best CEO in America and predicting iPad sales would hit 10 million this year.
Apple announced on Monday that it has sold two million of its tablet computers in less than two months, outdoing even the iconic iPhone on its launch. Analysts estimate the California-based firm will sell five to eight million iPads this year.
Murdoch said that while imitations were likely to abound in the coming months, Jobs "will stay out in front with a very big share of the market."
"It's really a beautiful, beautiful device -- all the things you can do with it," the complimentary News Corp. chairman and chief executive told the Fox Business Network.
News Corp. is the television network's parent company.
Murdoch, who participated with Jobs in the All Things Digital conference in the Southern California town of Rancho Palos Verdes on Tuesday, said he expected to gain at least an additional 1.1 million paying subscribers to The Wall Street Journal he owns thanks to the iPad.
The Journal already charges a similar number of people to gain access to restricted content on its website. So far, 10,000 people are reading the newspaper on their iPads, according to Murdoch.
Another 100,000 people who already buy the Journal and have it delivered at home are also using the iPad to read it.
"To introduce them to it, we're giving them that for nothing. But later on, we'll charge probably a discounted rate, if you're also buying the paper itself," he said.
In comparison, a spokesperson for The New York Times said last week that its iPad application -- entirely free of charge for now -- has been used by 300,000 people.
Asked whether he considered Jobs the best chief executive in the United States, Murdoch replied "there's not much doubt about that.
"He's got such incredible focus. He's got such power inspiring the people around him who work for him. And, you know, it's -- it's a highly, highly disciplined company... and it makes beautiful products," he added.
On Tuesday, Jobs said that "any democracy depends on a free, healthy press," a thought echoed by Murdoch, who said he was convinced that tools like the portable tablet computers would not spell the end of the press.
"Most people over 50 love the tactile experience of reading a real newspaper," the Australian-American media czar said.
"But it doesn't mean that you won't also have this or take it with you or read it on the train or whatever -- or use it for your e-mail or whatever. Or give it to your kids to play games on."
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