“The Daily” for iPad: Once a Day Updates Might be Ok After All – But…

News Corp.’s The Daily electronic newspaper for the iPad launched with a bigger splash than most electronic periodicals. Its $30 million development cost, migration of “name” journalists from dead tree to electronic publication, and having Apple itself involved with its launched helped this buzz.

The Daily (iTunes App Store)

I elected to sit on the sidelines while pros and cons were thrown around on The Daily’s launch day. Here’s my observations now that the early dust has settled.

The app is free. However, its content is bought through in-app purchases in either a weekly subscription for 99 cents or an annual subscription for $39.99 (which works out to 77 cents per week). Verizon Wireless is sponsoring a free 14-day trial. So, you can take a look at The Daily without spending any money right now.

The Daily is more like a magazine than a newspaper to me. Its layout looks like a magazine and is, in fact, the first e-magazine layout and navigation that I actually enjoy looking at and using. Photograph quality is extremely good and the embedded videos are generally well produced and well-placed in page layouts. I was surprised that even the advertisements seemed to work with the overall layout design and page flow.

I didn’t understand the strategy of only updating content once a day until I actually used the app. If you think of The Daily as a daily magazine instead of a newspaper, it starts to make more sense. So far, the text content, photos, and videos are something that you take in a bit more slowly to absorb it a bit more than, for example, a 30 second sound byte on TV news.

Make no mistake, however, The Daily is a web-based product. The iPad goes to the network frequently to get page content. And, Waxy.org even indexed The Daily’s content in a way that you can read its content without an iPad (or a subscription) on any device. The Daily does not appear to be an app you will read on a WiFi-less flight. It is a network dependent app.

The Daily: Indexed

Those wondering about the financial aspects of running The Daily should read Jeff Jarvis’ interesting speculation about subscription levels needed to keep the e-paper opearating.

Daily economics

His thoughtful speculation results in a guess that about 750,000 paid subscriptions are needed for The Daily to break even. Will I be a subscriber after the two-week free trial? I haven’t made up my mind on that one yet. I will say that I wish they had a $2.49 monthly subscription rate instead of just weekly and yearly options.