Can Murdoch’s iPad-only ‘The Daily’ save newspapers?

2 Feb 2011

Later today newspaper publisher extraordinaire Rupert Murdoch will get the virtual presses rolling on the first nationwide newspaper to be launched in the US for 30 years – The Daily – which will arrive as an iPad app.

The new newspaper will cost users 99 cents a week and could pave the digital road forward for the global newspaper industry crippled by falling circulation, decreasing advertising revenues and a dearth of original new ideas. The irony is everyone knows that digital is the way forward, but no one has come up with the solution. Until now – perhaps Murdoch has cracked it.

Worldwide mobile application store downloads are forecast to reach 17.7bn downloads this year – up 117pc on the 8.2bn downloads last year, according to Gartner. Apple’s ground-breaking iPad represented nearly 90pc of the media tablets shipped worldwide in the third quarter of last year, IDC revealed. The worldwide tablet market grew 45pc, driven almost exclusively by demand for the iPad.

According to IDC, vendors shipped 4.8m units globally in the third quarter, compared to 3.3m units in the second quarter of 2010 and Apple’s iPad represented nearly 90pc of the media tablets shipped worldwide in the third quarter.

But Apple won’t have the tablet market to itself. With 85 new and primarily Android tablets announced at CES, developers are making these devices a priority. So, too, should newspaper publishers.

Murdoch’s game plan for tablet computers and newspapers

Murdoch has hired a staff of 100 journalists who will work from News Corp’s New York offices.

First reports of the newspaper suggest the team has succeeded in replicating the newspaper experience in perhaps the most tangible digital version yet.

But business-minded executives in traditional news outlets will be looking beyond the format and ‘feel’ of The Daily to the actual subscription model, a joint labour of love pursued by both Murdoch and Apple CEO Steve Jobs.

In fact, it would be fair to say that subscription-based apps will be a strong feature of new products and services that will emerge on the iPad platform in the coming year, making it more tangible for newspaper and magazine publishers to derive new income streams from subscriptions and advertising.

As The Daily gets ready to be distributed to potentially millions of tablet-toting readers, it must be remembered that this is the first nationwide newspaper to be launched in the US since USA Today rolled off the presses in 1982.

It is a significant gesture when you think of all the regional and city papers in the US that folded or went online – only in the wake of the recession.

We may be on the brink of something tangible and new for a newspaper industry that desperately needs ideas.

iPad Media