Back in February 2011, Apple and News Corp. made a lot of noise about their plans to revitalize the electronic publishing industry with the release of The Daily, the world’s first iPad-only newspaper.
So much for that idea. News Corp. has issued a statement that it will shut down the The Daily iPad effective December 15. News Corp. Chairman Rupert Murdoch said “From its launch, The Daily was a bold experiment in digital publishing and an amazing vehicle for innovation. Unfortunately, our experience was that we could not find a large enough audience quickly enough to convince us the business model was sustainable in the long-term.”
The demise of The Daily was not hard to predict. In August, News Corp. cut 50 of its 170 staffers. Much of the technology that was a part of The Daily will be swallowed up by the New York Post, also owned by News Corp. The Post already has an iPad and iPhone app.
Why Buy a Cow when Milk Is Cheap?
The demise of The Daily, along with print editions of Newsweek and U.S. News along with the poor performance of paywalls at the New York Times and Wall Street Journal, plus the shrinkage of newspapers all point to one common problem: you can’t get people to pay for what is floating around for free all over the Internet. Google News and Yahoo News do just fine giving away what paywalls are trying to hide.
“It is becoming increasingly difficult to replicate the traditional subscription-based newspaper model in the digital world where ‘freemium-based’ newspaper or the news-aggregator model is thriving,” said Neil Shah, senior analyst with Strategy Analytics.
“The digital news aggregator websites and apps such as Flipboard, Zite, Google Reader and others offer news content from multiple sources, more comprehensively and in a more organized way which is going to be hard to challenge,” he added.
Not a Good Newspaper
Plus, notes Ben Bajarin, principal analyst with Creative Strategies, The Daily wasn’t very good. “The content was good but could have been better. Nothing in The Daily was compelling in any one area to be a draw. There were only two or three articles per section. They got some good writers but didn’t have the talent across the board people are paying for, and there was a lack of a real strength,” he said.
If you look at the magazine racks of the few remaining bookstores, you’ll notice some magazines are doing just fine, but they are highly specialized. It doesn’t matter if they are ‘Cigar Aficionado,’ ‘Guitar World’ or ‘Vogue,’ specialty publications are fat and full of ads while general news publications wither and die.
Those publications also do well with a pay wall, noted Bajarin. “What you are seeing from magazines and publications that are successful is they are good at a multi-platform publishing strategy. They publish online and via an app, so you as a subscriber can choose one or more of those mediums, the iPad service or the print service,” he said.