8 Reasons Why iPad Newspaper Will Most Definitely Fail Horribly

By Shaon, Gaea News Network
Friday, November 26, 2010


$30 million and 100 journalists is the amount of capital Rupert Murdoch, the undisputed media baron has decided to allocate to his forthcoming venture an iPad newspaper called “The Daily.”. Everything seems to be going smooth for him, the support from Apple CEO Steve Jobs. But to put it straight, this is one of the few bad business decisions he has made in his hallowed reign as the premier Media Mogul. The mis-step seems to be of the caliber of the time when he decided to go over board with the budget with the acquisition of the “The Wall Street Journal”. Well its not hard to see through the facts once you consider that the concept of a newspaper on an electronic medium is quite a case of regression. To take a step backward when News as a commodity is on the verge of becoming a 24/7 social experience the step might seem as something that would come to a millionaire in an ungodly hour during a restless night in his pent house. Well to tell the truth the vision of “The Daily” was indeed the fruit of Murdoch’s dreams. The added benefit of being in the eye of the media storm that is dissecting his every move and not to mention more than a few millions to spare must have spurred the initiative. But at this point of time its hard to see the reason behind the wall of skepticism that has been raised for his venture. The reasons being quite simply that the man with the midas touch may well just have lost the visionary ideas that filled his coffers in the first place. We have tried our best to document our concerns with this venture as follows.

1.A daily affair in the wake of 24/7 News services

Web inventor Tim Berners Lee recently wrote,

Walled gardens, no matter how pleasing, can never compete in diversity, richness and innovation with the mad, throbbing Web market outside their gates.

and there lies the crux of my argument.

The biggest problem with The Daily seems to be that it is being perceived as a daily publication and would hardly cater to the audience who by now would be accustomed with the 24/7 coverage of News. It will have to compete with the real time efforts of the modern Web sites and mobile phone apps. There is no dearth of original articles on the net and maybe this was something that News Corp missed before deciding to take the proverbial plunge.

2. Where the Hell is the Tech Team

Wherever you search you will see only the connotations that people like Newspaperman Angelo; his college friend Greg Clayman from MTV Networks; and a trio of managing editors from newspapers and TV are coming on-board. Well to be fair Clayman was a managing editor at the AOL news. But the tech talent that is to be summoned to make the app user friendly and usable

is not there. Considering the Financial muscles of Murdoch, there should not have been a lack of talent sourced from Yahoo, Google Apple or the likes. Well he does have Steve Jobs on his side but it will be extremely unlike him if Apple were to indeed come on board to design the app. The most Apple can do at this point will be to ship the app along with all the latest batch of iPad. Journalists are being recruited left right and center but without adequate tech support the project will hit the ground like the time Harvy Weinstein decided to venture into uncharted waters. Also a fact to ponder over is can a team of that many journalists however talented would be able to go into the root of matters as diverse as politics and technology and produce content original enough to warrant the subscription price.

The original WMD media post described the situation in no uncertain terms

There will be no foreign bureaus, and there are no plans for a D.C. bureau at the moment, but it’s expected reporters from New York will take care of important political news

3.The out dated business model

Just going through the figures some concerns really hit the target. The Wired, a popular news magazine with almost 750,000 print circulation managed to sell 100,000 copies on the itunes. But then its digital subscription base dwindled to the sub 30,000 region and its been their since then. Considering Murdoch’s estimate of a circulation of 17 times of the the Wired’s subscription base to be true at 99 c a week the Newspaper will generate a paltry 5.1 million dollars per 100,00 users. Now with Apple’s share roughly 30 percent of the profit out of the way the magazine would struggle to meet the expense of keeping all the 300 seasoned and obviously expensive news writers. Examples of successful paid content on the web, like News Corp’s own WSJ.com may exist but the fact remains that since it is primarily an app based service it can never match the might of Wall Street Journal which is available for anyone with an Internet connection to access.

4. Probably too narrow a demographic to target

A Internet based content service that feeds only off the iPad users with no web version. Thereby robbing any chance of the paper to promote itself or even leave enough room for expansion. Its not as if the content of The Daily would remain exclusive either. One can safely bet that all the world changing exclusives they gather would be subject to the twitter treatment of being summarized in a measly 140 characters. One half expects them posted as a screen shot on someone’s Facebook page minutes within publishing. The fact remains that the iPhone’s OS has only penetrated 5% of the market in the US, as opposed to all web-enabled devices, which account for more that 40%.

5. Charging money when the competition is providing it for free

Even if people do decide to gain access to news on their iPad do they really need to look further than The Washington Post, the Guardian, CNN, the BBC, Slate or GaeaTimes? The sheer number of free news content that may be accessed with the web browser alone would leave one wondering why would anyone decide to pay for something that can be obtained for free and legally? Also the mere presence of aggregation software like Reeder, Instapaper, Flipboard and Pulse would be more than sufficient to satiate the user’s need of original content that is connected with your social media presence.

6.Murdoch’s affiliation with dominance reaffirmed

The concept of Internet to the users is based on enabling rather than restricting them. Sharing is the common concept the foundation of the Internet as we know it is based on. Truth be told if in the unlikely event the app does succeed it will certainly give rise to many other clones with business houses from all over the world keen on jumping onto the band wagon. So the reason why should a platform dependent news media should succeed is quite beyond me. Should anyone want to share an article he will have to do so while behind Apple’s paywall. What if the person I want to share the news to is unlucky enough not to own an iPad or any other tablet options for that matter. To look at it rather crudely the apps success/failure might just change the nature of news that would be produced then on.

7.New Corp.’s disasters with previous efforts

Murdoch had to face a long series of failures in the past in almost all of his previous Internet ventures. Well maybe that could alone be the reason that spurred him on to the venture. Quite notably his most memorable mis giving was in the form of Myspace, the once premier social networking site. He brought the site in 2005 before the Facebook phenomenon swept over the entire world. Myspace was unable to retain its own user base and the $580 million Murdoch invested in the site. it had to change over from its initial vision into a popular platform of media sharing. The New York Post, is often regarded as the wasteland of Internet news and who can forget the untimely demise of their very own PageSix.com. Apart from that the recent results of the Times of London’s abysmal drop in traffic (upto 97% as per industry estimates) after they decided to paywall the site don’t seem to be very encouraging.

8. Similar faliures in the online news paper business

The once great news source of South USA met a similar fate while on the online version is still fresh in our minds now. They tried to target the digital medium as a source of revenue and never actually considered the potential the Online media had. The publication was almost a digital replica of their print edition. Millions of dollars were invested in devising a classified service in a market that belonged to Cragslist and Ebay. In the desperate bid to gain advertising dollars they made one bad choice over another and ultimately the product failed, quite miserably.

Publishing on the iPad has been roughly 9 months old. The medium is totally in a nascent phase. A price model has not yet been established and moreover barring a few exceptions like the case of the Oprah magazine most of the other journals have been a failure. But without the backing of another publication that has shown a sustained growth the future largely depends on the games of mathematics.

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