The iPad only News Corporation experiment called The Daily is shutting down, surprising few. I’m amazed it lasted as long as it did.
Marco Arment speculates that one reason is that The Daily expenses were greater than its revenue. Of course Rupert Murdoch could have chosen to continu losing money on The Daily – the New York Post supposedly loses nearly $100,000,000 a year, but a leaner organization would have served News Corp better:
Well-established news sites are much better for news. Editorials and feature articles need to either be free, like most blogs, or consistently great and worth paying for, as in magazines such as The New Yorker or The Atlantic. But The Daily offered an overreaching mix of ineffective news coverage and unmemorable editorials and features. I’ve never seen anyone share a link to something in The Daily saying that we had to go read this great article that would make us want to subscribe. (In fact, I’ve simply never seen anyone post a link to anything in The Daily.)
The Daily required an extremely large staff to produce. And even with supposedly over 100,000 subscribers, netting them at least about $3 million per year plus ad revenue, that’s simply not enough to pay for a staff that large. (Not even close.)
Murdoch reading News of the World – source unknown
Jack Shafer thinks Murdoch just got bored with it…
When you’re as wealthy as Rupert Murdoch ($9.4 billion) and you control a company as resource-rich as News Corp (market cap $58.1 billion), shuttering a 22-month-old business like The Daily doesn’t signify failure as much as it does surrender.
Murdoch knew what he was getting into when he launched the iPad-only (and then smartphone, Android tablet, and Kindle Fire) publication in February 2011. At a press conference, the mogul claimed to have invested $30 million pre-launch and assumed running costs of about $500,000 a week. According to a report in the New York Observer, attributed to a “source,” the operation was amassing annual losses of $30 million. But again, for someone like Murdoch, $30 million is chump change. His New York Post loses up to $70 million a year, according to some accounts, and you don’t see him closing it. Such losses are rounding errors in the company’s entertainment budget.
To place The Daily venture in scale, the last attempt to start a national, general-interest print newspaper from the ground up—USA Today—lost $600 million over the course of a decade before turning its first profit in 1994. (In today’s money, that’s more than $1 billion.) The National, the national sports daily, lost $150 million (about $250 million, corrected for inflation) in 18 months before closing in June 1991. In the late 1990s, when Murdoch was trying to crash the China satellite TV market, he had invested $2 billion and was losing $2 million a week according to his former right-hand man in that enterprise. So, please, let’s not obsess too much over Murdoch’s squandering of $30 million a year on a failed experiment. In the history of journalistic bets, this was a trivial gamble.
There are almost as many diagnoses of what killed The Daily as there are dollars lost. And most of them are right.
I was never a subscriber, but I did read The Daily during its free month. There was rarely anything of interest to me- it seemed to be a lite version of Newsweek and the New York Post. I won’t miss it.
Even pilots don’t understand the “turn off all electronic devices” rule…
It’s somewhat ironic that American Airlines is loading more of its cockpits with iPads at roughly the same time that Alec Baldwin got kicked off for using his iDevice. But, American Airlines insists there are a lot of benefits to using Apple’s tablets as opposed to paper. First and foremost, the iPad replaces 45 pounds worth of paper for each pilot on a plane. If American is able to use iPads on every flight — its eventual goal — it stands to reduce its fuel usage by 500,000 gallons each year.
“That’s a significant savings,” said David Clark, the American pilot that is heading up the iPad effort. For the past six months, American has been testing iPad use on 777 flights out of Los Angeles–some 300 flights in all. As of last Friday, American has approval to use the iPads on all of its Boeing 777 aircraft for all phases of flight and Clark said the airline expects approval to use the tablets on 737s next year.
To answer every frequent flyer’s question, no, Clark isn’t really sure why the rest of us can’t use our iPads during takeoff and landing.
“I think that’s a fair and a good question,” Clark said. “First and foremost, the FAA makes the rules and we follow them.”
That being said, though, Clark notes that American Airlines did a lot of testing with the iPad and it is used only with all of its transmitting functions — including WiFi — turned off. At the back of the plane, Clark said, there can be any number of devices in use by dozens of passengers, making it hard to test for every possible scenario.
As for the pilots and their iPads, Clark said everything has gone swimmingly, Clark said. In general, even those who have never touched an iPad only need a half-hour or hour of training. “That speaks to the operating system,” Clark said.
Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp1 has released a new iPad only news-esque app with great fanfare. The Daily, as it is called, is going to charge a daily subscription of 99¢ a week2 but is free for the first two weeks3.
I’ve only used it for ten or so minutes, but wasn’t impressed so far. The articles seem to be targeted at high school students, the average word count less than an USA Today article, and of course, much less than a New York Times article or even a Wall Street Journal article. Also more gossip-heavy than I like: in fact the second section (after News) is called straight out: Gossip. So 1/6 news, 1/6 is opinion by right-wing stalwarts like Bjorn Lomborg, 4/6 various lifestyle/celebrity gossip/sports/and games. Not a mix targeted to someone like me.
The Chicago Tribune has published a version of their paper called Red Eye, targeted at kids and college kids, and it seems similar (minus the iPad bells and whistles). I never read it. Well, flip through the pages, reading isn’t quite the right verb, as usually there aren’t too many words to read. The Daily seems an updated version.
The Daily also crashed twice in the five minutes I browsed the app. Though to be fair, the NYTimes App took several iterations before it became stable, and the Daily is only version 1.0. I also found The Daily to be fairly sluggish sometimes when jumping between sections.
So would I buy it, once the two week trial ends? Probably not. But I’ll use it for a few more days and see if it gets better.
Update: if you want to read a the first couple days worth of articles, you can via this Tumblr blog, even if you don’t have an iPad.
Some reactions from various competitors:
But with bureaus only in New York and Los Angeles, backed up by freelance contributors elsewhere, not only is meaningful local coverage impossible but even regional coverage will be selective at best.
Reading the Daily can involve a certain amount of sluggishness. The “carousel” interface that greets you when you launch it lags behind your gestures, and some turns of an onscreen page also leave you waiting for a moment.
I also noticed one outright bug: With the Daily open, an iPad would not shut off its screen automatically, quickly draining its battery.
It also includes an opinion section. Editor Jesse Angelo dodged a question about whether it would mirror the right-leaning ideological tilt of other News Corp. outlets, saying only, “We are patriotic, we love America … we believe in free ideas, we believe in free people.”
That doesn’t sound like a dodge to me, but something that would said on Fox New most days of the week. Uggh.
NYTime’s Media Decoder blog:
The Fox News Channel suspended coverage of the violence taking place in Cairo Wednesday to present the news conference introducing The Daily, a new business venture controlled by Fox’s corporate owner, the News Corporation.
Both of the channel’s news competitors, CNN and MSNBC, continued to telecast the growing tension in Cairo, which included clashes in the streets involving Molotov cocktails and fire hoses.
At the same time Anderson Cooper on CNN was reporting on fires breaking out in the streets from incendiary devices, Fox News had continuing coverage of the press event surrounding The Daily, including a speech by Mr. Murdoch and editors of the online paper, as well as demonstrations of what the paper would look like on iPads.
At one point in the Fox coverage, the business anchor Neil Cavuto appeared to respond to comments from viewers who were suggesting that Fox was only covering this because this was a business owned by their own boss.
“That might have something to do with it,” Mr. Cavuto said. He then offered arguments for why this news spoke to “cultural events beyond a given company,” suggesting that it was a “crucial stage” in the future of news because so many more people were getting their news and information online
But we’ve seen most of this before. Every major newspaper Website features videos these days, and a number of them even make great use of big and panoramic photos. The Economist’s app beat The Daily to the punch in offering audio transcripts of the written stories. All in all, the app isn’t quite as innovative as Murdoch and Apple would have you believe.
Having built a kinda-new wineskin, Murdoch’s wine seems awfully familiar … and underwhelming. With its breezy, pointed headlines—“Here we snow again, America”—The Daily strongly resembles News Corp.’s own New York Post. With its energetic coverage of sports, it is reminiscent of USA Today. With its emphasis on graphics and photos of beautiful people, The Daily seems like People or Us Weekly.
But in its overall mix—light on news, heavier on celebrities and jocks, every item short and punchy—The Daily most reminds me of two other attempts to save daily newspapers from hemorrhaging young readers: Red Streak and RedEye, two free tabloids that appeared in Chicago a decade ago, aimed at twentysomething commuters who, it was thought, weren’t interested in news unless it was chopped up and dumbed down. There wasn’t much there there, and the same seems to be the case with The Daily: Murdoch’s reinvention of journalism looks a lot like the one before it.
(And, it should be noted, the “legacy” newspapers behind the RedEye and Red Streak—the Chicago Tribune and Sun-Times, respectively—have both been in bankruptcy in recent years. So much for reinvention.)
One of the clearest indications that The Daily is tied to old-school ways of thinking, though, is the presence of sudoku and crossword puzzles in the app. There are plenty of iPad offerings in both genres for dedicated puzzle-players, so it’s perplexing to see The Daily duplicate those efforts instead of concentrating on what it should do best: news.
The Daily isn’t a total disappointment. It seems most promising as a platform for advertisers: ads are quite easy to overlook on newspaper and magazine Websites, but on The Daily they fit into the natural flow of reading, and can grab your attention with eye-popping graphics. There is some promise here.
Some have written it off as dead on arrival, thanks to its fusion of old and new media. It will be fully digital, but published every night in time for the subscriber to read over morning coffee. “Wonderful! Slower news – and at a higher price,” wrote Scott Rosenberg of Salon before the launch.
As ever, Murdoch has dismissed the naysayers with a flick of his ample cheque book. He has sunk $30m (£19m) into developing the Daily and said it would cost $26m a year to cover its costs, including those of 100 staff. He is targeting the 50 million people expected to own an iPad by the end of next year. Analysts project that he can cover costs if 2% of them could be persuaded to subscribe to the Daily at 99 cents a week – no mean task, considering that there are already 9,000 other news apps for the iPad on the market. “It will all come down to content,” said Alan Mutter, blogger and former editor of the Chicago Daily News. “He’s going to have to make something very compelling to get people to pay.”
The first edition of the Daily had a conventional news front on Egypt under the headline “Falling Pharaoh”. It gave high billing to its gossip section, with features on Natalie Portman and Rihanna, and a column by Richard Johnson, formerly the doyen of the Page Six gossip column of the New York Post. It also showcased several digital bells and whistles, including photographs that can be scanned through 360 degrees, a “carousel” of stories that can be spun with a finger, and stories that you can listen to like a radio.
Asked by the Guardian whether the Daily would be more centrist in its politics than other parts of News Corporation, which, particularly in America, have been accused of being caustically rightwing, Murdoch was noncommittal, saying its editor, Jesse Angelo, would decide.
“We are patriotic,” Angelo replied. “We love America, we are going to say what we think is right for this country.” How would he measure success, Murdoch was asked. “When we are selling millions,” he replied.
I have to assume I’m in this group: I have an iPad 3G, and an AT&T data plan for it1
AT&T Inc. acknowledged Wednesday that a security hole in its website had exposed iPad users’ email addresses, a breach that highlights how corporations still have problems protecting private information.
A small group of computer experts that calls itself Goatse Security claimed responsibility for the intrusion, saying they exploited an opening in AT&T’s website to find numbers that identify iPads connected to AT&T’s mobile network.
Those numbers allowed the group to uncover 114,000 email addresses of thousands of users, including prominent officials in companies, politics and the military, Goatse said. Gawker Media LLC, which reported the breach earlier Wednesday, said 114,000 email addresses were revealed. It doesn’t appear any financial or billing information was made public.
AT&T, the sole U.S. provider of wireless service for the Apple Inc. tablets, said it had fixed the security problem by Tuesday. It said it would inform all customers whose email addresses and iPad IDs may have been obtained.
What I don’t know is what Goatse did with the data – are they planning on selling it to spammers? Or use it to compromise our email accounts in some way? My passwords are firewalled – i.e., I have different passwords for different websites, but no password is invulnerable to a determined hacker. Maybe AT&T will take a PR-friendly response, and offer a years worth of identity-theft monitoring for their customers?
plus my surname begins with the letter A – which was fine in school, not so good always [↩]
I was sitting on my porch, soaking up the sunlight, drinking my morning coffee, and this error message shut down my iPad:
[click to embiggen]
Umm, not good. Seems ok now, but seeing as the temperature in Chicago right now is only 51º F, hope this isn’t a problem with the iPad itself. I did have the black Apple iPad case, perhaps the color contributed?
Sitting on the couch playing with an Ipad. Fun. Screen is gorgeous, but non-native apps (those from the iPhone ) look pretty much like crap. I am sure that either the apps have been updated or their functionality can be replaced by a similar app. Or the app’s developer is furiously coding an update I suppose.
iPad About « The New Adventures of Stephen Fry – I have always thought Hans Christian Andersen should have written a companion piece to the Emperor’s New Clothes, in which everyone points at the Emperor shouting, in a Nelson from the Simpson’s voice, “Ha ha! He’s naked.” And then a lone child pipes up, ‘No. He’s actually wearing a really fine suit of clothes.” And they all clap hands to their foreheads as they realise they have been duped into something worse than the confidence trick, they have fallen for what E. M. Forster called the lack of confidence trick. How much easier it is to distrust, to doubt, to fold the arms and say “Not impressed”. I’m not advocating dumb gullibility, but it is has always amused me that those who instinctively dislike Apple for being apparently cool, trendy, design fixated and so on are the ones who are actually so damned cool and so damned sensitive to stylistic nuance that they can’t bear to celebrate or recognise obvious class, beauty and desire.
Glenn Greenwald – Salon.com – Justice Alito's conduct and the Court's credibility – There's a reason that Supreme Court Justices — along with the Joint Chiefs of Staff — never applaud or otherwise express any reaction at a State of the Union address. It's vital — both as a matter of perception and reality — that those institutions remain apolitical, separate and detached from partisan wars. The Court's pronouncements on (and resolutions of) the most inflammatory and passionate political disputes retain legitimacy only if they possess a credible claim to being objectively grounded in law and the Constitution, not political considerations. The Court's credibility in this regard has — justifiably — declined substantially over the past decade, beginning with Bush v. Gore (where 5 conservative Justices issued a ruling ensuring the election of a Republican President), followed by countless 5-4 decisions in which conservative Justices rule in a way that promotes GOP political beliefs, while the more "liberal" Justices do to the reverse
Tell CBS that this is no time to feed the anger and hatred of anti-abortion extremists.
CBS has a stated policy to reject all ads it deems controversial, including ads from MoveOn.org, PETA, and even the United Church of Christ, which dared to suggest that their church would model tolerance (“Jesus Didn’t Turn People Away. Neither Do We”).
In fact, CBS execs told the United Church of Christ that CBS rejects any ad that “touches on and/or takes a position on one side of a current issue
Can Apple’s iPad Save the Media After All? | Epicenter | Wired.com – early reports indicate that device’s display is crisp, with rich colors. If that’s the case, it will make any well-designed, high-quality publication look good. In addition, magazine publishers can take advantage of the device’s ability to play video by embedding it into articles, and can update their publications with the latest news in real time…
Condé Nast is preparing a number of iPad ezine subscriptions, including GQ, Wired and Vanity Fair, sources tell wired.com. In an interview before the iPad announcement one senior executive said that while the company it was still very enthusiastic about the iPhone platform — whose downloads already count towards ad-rate-setting circulation guarantees — but was poised to take full advantage of the iPad and was “eager to see what kind of additional functionality they have they baked in.”
Read More http://www.wired.com/epicenter/2010/01/can-apples-ipad-save-the-media-after-all#ixzz0dr25Jr9C
1.2 Million Pounds Of Cured Meat Recalled For Salmonella – The Consumerist – "1.2 million pounds of Daniele International salami, sausage, and other cured meat products have been yanked out of stores and recalled due to possible salmonella contamination. The meats are linked to 184 sick individuals in 38 states. At least 35 people have been hospitalized, but none have died."