Meet The Daily, the World’s First iPad-Only Newspaper

By Andrew Moseman | February 3, 2011 4:50 pm

Rupert Murdoch—head of NewsCorp, the owner of Fox News, The Wall Street Journal, and the New York Post—has just launched The Daily, his “iPad newspaper” built from the ground up. So will people soon be reading original newspaper content on Apple’s slick tablet, and will they being paying for it?

Early reaction to The Daily is coming out, with some focusing particularly on what the product is not. From the tech blog Mashable:

Murdoch and his cohorts stressed that The Daily is, first and foremost, a newspaper. Most content will be released in a single update in the morning, but breaking news will be added throughout the day and could include, for instance, a live feed from Twitter to deliver updates, executive editor Jesse Angelo said. There are two problems with this strategy: one, that most iPad owners don’t use their iPads to access breaking news, and that The Daily, in its current iteration, isn’t really a newspaper; it’s a magazine. [Mashable]

The Daily—available by subscription for a buck a week or $40 for a year—boasts an opinion page, horoscopes, gossip items, and other telltale signs of Murdoch’s love of the old-school newspaper. But, some reviewers note, its carousel layout—similar to iTunes—makes The Daily feel like several disconnected sections rather than a unified whole.

Open the app and you’re presented with a carousel navigation much like “cover flow” in iTunes. I’d imagine the designers felt that was the simplest way to give a good overview of all the content, and subconsciously remind the user that this is an iTunes-style paid content environment – though you can’t burn your existing digital publications and view them through the Daily. [The Guardian]

Truly, though, the medium is the message here, according to Jack Shafer at Slate. He praises the return of Murdoch the gambler (rather than Murdoch the slithery tyrant) for throwing caution to the wind with The Daily.

Judging by the first issue, I’d say that The Daily is more about establishing a new business model, with an effective pay wall, than embracing a new medium. For as long as the commercial Web has been around (I’d say 1995), Internet entrepreneurs have struggled to create frictionless toll roads that didn’t require pulling out a Visa card every time you wanted to buy a product or something to read. By piggybacking on Apple’s App Store, Murdoch’s new publication makes it easy to pay to read. [Slate]

But publishers fear relying too much on Apple as a distributor and having to fork over large percentages of the profits. Murdoch, conceding that Apple’s head start with the iPad will allow it to dominate the tablet world for the next couple of years at least, has already admitted to agreeing to give Apple its standard cut of 30 percent of revenue.

And some other publishers are just feeling left out, since Apple hasn’t allowed them the option of selling publications via subscription.

With few exceptions — one being The Wall Street Journal, another News Corporation product — Apple has not allowed media companies to sell more than one issue at a time through its App Store. Apple’s vice president in charge of iTunes, Eddy Cue, who appeared with Mr. Murdoch at the Guggenheim on Wednesday, said Apple would have an announcement “very soon” regarding subscriptions for other news publications, but he did not say when or whether the arrangement that The Daily had would be extended to others. [The New York Times]

Murdoch, being Murdoch, has garnered plenty of comments and attention for the launch of his new baby. But his approach to building tablet journalism isn’t the only one.

For example, the iPad-only Flipboard — which seems to have recovered nicely from an overhyped launch — combines the rich graphic design of print magazines with the easy navigation of a touch-screen device but also offers access to a wide variety of content from across the Web. And the subscription-based, advertising-free Ongo — also available on the Web — lets readers build their own news service from a selection of U.S. and British newspapers. [Washington Post]

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  • nick

    This is a nice try to claw-back the ending of newspapers and magazines in general, but I have a theory that people will continue using RSS readers for their news, especially the large contingent of people who knows how full of it Fox and Murdoch are.

    And if all the big news outlets switch to paid content, it’ll only take a few people with subscriptions sharing news below the radar to ruin that.

    And I really the state of American news in general is so piss-poor compared to the BBC and the ‘terrorist-supporting*’ al-Jazeera network.

    *I don’t believe this for a second, unless they have folk like Keith Olberman on staff going behind their backs, which is always possible. Then again, Fox news accused this one middle-eastern gent of supporting terrorism… and he owned something like 5-10% of Fox news…

  • John

    Notes from a Hater:

    Apple’s game is mostly slick packaging. 99% of the innovations of the iPhone have come from third party app developers. I’ve tried to like the iPad but it’s really just a downgraded netbook (lets just come to terms with the fact that the keyboard was a great invention). I tried the Itunes movie rental service. It cost $4 for a 24 hr rental and took 2 hours to download on a fast connection. Coulda found a $1 Redbox in that time.

    And, finally, Apple’s demands as a sole distributor for media content flies is in direct contradiction to the idea of a free press.

  • Mediere

    Why would you make a newspaper only for iPad? Why take on such a small consumer market.

  • Matt B.

    I think it’s going to get to the point where the Associated Press and other news services sell their products directly to the consumers, without the middleman of newspapers. But right now, the newspapers are their customers, so the transition has a high risk. And there would need to be a new model of how to get local news to people in text form. But Nick is right; once a medium goes to data form, it can be copied way too easily.

    I like the idea on Babylon 5 of being able to personalize your newspaper, and Ongo sounds close to that. There’s so much in one issue of a newspaper that I’m never going to read, it just doesn’t make sense to buy it.


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