Tablet-only newspaper trials show ‘growing pains’

Could print newspapers and magazine titles find new life through tablet publishing platforms? The first attempts to trial the idea don’t look so hopeful.

The emerging market of tablet-only news magazines are uncertain with announcements that News Corporation’s The Daily cut one-third of its staff last month.

Launched in February 2011, The Daily was the first iPad-only news publication of its kind. Promising to begin with, it quickly gained 80,000 subscribers but since then has reportedly lost money, and now staff. It was deemed to be the first “truly digital” news magazine, downloadable week-to-week on an iPad app for 99 cents.

Many critics disliked its disconnection from the web and after a year of reporting it failed to provide the initial promise of high-value original digital journalism – complaints that readers could find most of The Daily’s news elsewhere on the web or in print arose. This raises an important issue – what news information are the general public willing to pay for, when a great deal of general reporting can be sourced from public broadcasters or an internet news aggregator?

Now the The Huffington Post is giving tablet editions a shot and has now begun publishing its own iPad magazine. It has already dropped the 99 cent price tag after only five editions.

From the UK, The Guardian has reported this month that only 2.1% of readers (17,000) who trialled the iPad edition for three months have decided to pay for an ongoing subscription. The Guardian iPad edition includes reformatted content from the priced print newspaper, with the addition of the web material.

On a brighter note, optimists argue that the initial failures simply signify the “growing pains” of a fledgling product and market.

* ‘Guardian sees 2.1% of its iPad readers pay’ Read more at PaidContent

* ‘Are tablet-only publications dead?’ Read more at AdWeek


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