Murdoch's iPad Newspaper Launches

Will The Daily be a roaring success?

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The most ambitious media endeavor since Conde Nast's Portfolio magazine launched today. But it's not designed for print or the Web. It's the first iPad-only newspaper and it's the brainchild of News Corp. chairman Rupert Murdoch. "New times demand new journalism," Murdoch said. "The iPad demands that we completely re-imagine our craft."

At a cost of $0.99 per week and $40 per year, The Daily, as it's called, is available now at Apple's App Store. It combines text, video and 360-degree interactive photography for a rich news-reading experience. The issues will offer up to 100 pages of content per day and users can share links to individual articles with non-subscribers.  The 100-person news team is stacked with journalists poached from The New York Times, Forbes, AOL News, Time and, yes, even The Atlantic. At today's launch at the Guggenheim Museum, Mudroch, Apple's Eddy Cue and former New York Post executive editor Jesse Angelo answered questions from reporters.

Will The Daily be a roaring success or a mega flop? Here are the initial takes:

  • It Sounds Boring, writes Ryan Tate at Gawker:
It's like an iPad magazine, except it comes out every day. If that sounds boring, well — it should, because that's how the event itself seemed. The product didn't seem bad — it looked nice enough — so much as humdrum, given the possibilities opened up by the iPad. At one point in the presentation, Angelo was even touting The Daily by pointing out that a television review contained a link to IMDB. Later, someone bragged about a direct link to the Apple Store. Woah, slow down with the innovation there guys!
  • News Corp. Synergy Could Help, notes Larry Dignan at ZDNet: "News Corp. has the resources to differentiate the Daily. If News Corp. can meld newspaper, cable, studio and Internet assets the Daily could sing. Indeed, the presentation outlining the Daily was heavy on the video."
  • It'll Tap Into the Rich Guy Market, predicts John Biggs at TechCrunch: "News Corps’ private game preserve is Wall Street and once you convince the millions of chest-thumpers who subscribe to the WSJ to also subscribe to the Daily, you’ve got quite a revenue base. Add in the interactive features and you’ve pretty much hit on the early adopter/rich guy sweet spot."
  • Here's How The Daily's Financials Look, explains new media guru Jeff Jarvis via Twitter. He notes that The Daily's run-rate is $500k per week and they hope to sell "millions":
So in the first year, News Corp. will have invested $55m in the Daily. For comparison, Portfolio went through a reported $40m before folding. Let's not forget that Apple will take up to 30% of at least sub revenue for the Daily. So let's say w/discounts the Daily needs to sell roughly 750k subs; that's 10% penetration of iPad distrib. Comps: Wired: 22k, VF 9k.
  • It Will Have a Measured News-Breaking Pace, writes Matt Kinsman at Folio: "Breaking news updates can be handled by inserting a completely new page into the template, tickers running across the bottom or through social media channels, but the The Daily is going to take pains not to overwhelm readers with constant updates."
  • But Will People Buy It? wonders Dignan:  "It's going to take time for consumers to accept an iPad newspaper. Sure, early adopters will check it out. Then what? Early hype doesn’t turn into market share, revenue or cash flow instantly."
  • The Subscription Plan Is Key, writes Kit Eaton at Fast Company: "Accepting subscription-style payments, and then pushing out the new content to the app on a daily basis, was trickier than at first thought. This is absolutely crucial tech, as it really enables consumers to think of the Daily's app as a single entity that has updating content--like a digital daily newspaper, in fact. It's a subtle change from having to re-load an app, as some iPad magazines require, but it may help keep users subscribing as it takes less effort."
  • It Will Need to Avoid Crashes, writes Ian Paul at PC World. He notes that The Daily will embrace new forms of storytelling allowing users to "manipulate and examine" photographs. But will the iPad be able to handle the app?

The idea of taking advantage of the iPad's capabilities is something we've already seen such as Virgin's iPad-only magazine, Project.

Project is a fun magazine to read and often uses gimmicky features such as a cover page that includes video or a photograph covered in virtual dirt that you have to wipe away to see what's underneath. The problem, however, is that this magazine has so many interactive features that the app often crashes and can at times be unusable. If The Daily is going to succeed it will have to be careful to deliver a consistent, crash-resistant experience every day of the week.

  • What Topics Will It Cover? wonders Damon Kiesow at Poynter. "Content," he says, "will make the difference. How will this publication cover the entire country with only 100 staffers? The Daily will have a technology editor, opinions editor, culture editor, ideas reporter, celebrity and gossip reporters, and even health, science, space and military reporters. How much will it rely on outside sources, such as wire services?"
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.