You can be sure that whenever Rupert Murdoch does something relating to technology, people are going to bash it. And so it is with his latest venture, an iPad newspaper called The Daily. Internet luminaries have been trashing the idea since it’s been out there.
Here’s why we think it can work:
- A ton of people want to take in news once a day in well-curated form. The reason why people don’t pay for newspapers anymore isn’t that they don’t want curated, once-a-day news. It’s that they can get curated, once-a-day news faster and for free by typing “nytimes.com” or “huffingtonpost.com” into their browser every morning. A criticism of The Daily is that, since it’ll be published once a day, it won’t be able to break news fast the way the web does. But most people aren’t news addicts who need the news right this minute. They don’t want much more than a daily intake of reasonably good news. Tapping an app icon on an iPad fulfils that function just as well, possibly better than the web. By the way, if the appeal of bloggy news is fast breaking news, that appeal is fading for us too — increasingly, that advantage belongs to Twitter.
- A ton of people are still willing to trade money for convenience. You can get all the media you want for free — legally or illegally — and yet tons of people still pay for music on iTunes and Spotify and for movies on Netflix, because it’s fast, painless and convenient. Buying stuff on the iPad, especially with subscriptions, has those characteristics as well. It’s been well established that plenty of people are willing to buy apps.
- iPad owners are mostly rich, and will remain so for a long time. Tablets may be the next wave of computing, but right now people who buy a half-grand device that doesn’t do everything a computer does, almost by definition, have good disposable income. And it’s going to stay that way for many many years. That means they’re more willing to pay for news and that they’re great targets for advertising.
- Links aren’t the only way to promote content anymore. Haven’t you heard? The web is dead. Another criticism of The Daily is that since it won’t allow for inbound linking and social sharing it won’t draw in traffic. But that’s not the only way to promote content anymore. If you rank high on the app store, and especially if you’re featured, that gets tons of people to buy your app, and has nothing to do with search engines and social media. Ranking high on the app store is not a foregone conclusion, but neither is ranking high on Google and going viral on Facebook. The point is that it’s not a dealbreaker for an iPad newspaper.
- Aggregation works both ways. The Daily will aggregate content form other News Corp properties — smart. But we’re betting the aggregation will work both ways. People will see news from “The Daily, the fair and balanced iPad newspaper” (or whatever) on News Corp properties. That will get people to look for The Daily on their iPad even if bloggers can’t link to it.
- It’s a work in progress. Many of the things people pooh-pooh about The Daily are things that can be fixed. No social sharing? There’s no reason why they can’t update the app to let you tweet out links, maybe to a website that only lets you visit a few times a month like the Financial Times. Only updated once a day? Well, the iPad supports push notifications for apps, so maybe they’ll do that. The point is that, like all startups, there’s a lot The Daily can do to bob and weave, execute and be successful.