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First iPad newspaper launches in New York

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Today, Murdoch bets an estimated $30 million on his hunch that a new generation of iPad users will pay for an online newspaper.

The Daily, a digital newspaper made exclusively for iPad by News Corp, is available to readers prepared to pay 62 p a week for a daily dose of US-focused news and entertainment. With around a hundred journalists producing original content that will be updated once a day only, the innovation is in the delivery rather than the journalism.

Meanwhile, a bunch of New York digirati are producing their version of an iPad news app, reports TechCrunch. News.me is where social media meets news aggregation – an app that filters news from your Twitter account to produce a kind of personalised news stream.

Written by Alex

February 2nd, 2011 at 6:19 am

Sail racing ‘app mag’ enters unchartered waters

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Catching the breeze: sailracing

Sail racing is possibly the first ‘back bedroom’ iPad magazine to launch – and to judge by the initial response, it looks set to blaze a trail. 

Established and self-financed by  Justin Chisholm for ‘around £10,000’, its target was to reach 10,000 views and downloads by the first week in February.  It passed that milestone nearly a fortnight ahead of schedule and, says Chisholm, the response from advertisers has been ‘very enthusiastic’.

Chisholm has been a well-established freelance journalist working for sailing titles for eight or nine years.  In recent times he has run the website offshorerules.com

“There are lots and lots of sailing websites”, he explains.  “I aimed to get beyond the regurgitated press releases that are the staple of most of them.  Offshorerules is good, but I realised that I could spend another decade working on it and I might not be generating enough page views or advertising revenue to it to make it really worth while”.  

Inspired by The Times’ success charging for apps, he decided to change tack.

The app development was undertaken by Yudu.com for somewhat less than Chisholm’s overall launch costs, and the magazine is designed Andrew Mays.  Each edition is created as a pdf, and supplied to Yudu, which converts it into the app and manages the relationship with iStore.

The first edition is free to view on a browser, iPhone or iPad, thereafter the magazine will cost £3.99 an edition.  “Initially I intend to sell single editions – until we build up enough audience and trust to sell subscriptions.  Registering for the app means that we have readers’ details so we can push a message to readers each time a new edition is available.  Apple takes 30% of the cover price.

The 79-page magazine looks a lot more like a printed magazine than websites generally do – and a very slick, professional product it is too.  Hyperlinks, slide shows, audio files and video (particularly on the iPad edition) enhance the package.  Chisholm has assembled some of the biggest names in sailing journalism, who he is paying, per article, as any other magazine would.  It also benefits from serving a sport that has both a globally audience and advertisers that market their goods around the world. 

To date, Chisholm reports, the response has been overwhelming, with over 1,000 downloads a week.  He accepts that competitors are unlikely to be slow to respond – but at his current rate of growth he might well be hard to catch once there are others jostling for attention in the iStore.

Written by Tim Dawson

January 20th, 2011 at 9:48 am

Sunday Times iPad app tops chart

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The Sunday Times is bragging today that its iPad app has topped a chart rating design, functionality and use of multimedia.  The chart, published by iMonitor, rated Story Magazin from Hungary and Viva HD second and third.  The Washington Post and Pearson’s Intelligent Life came in at four and five.

Acclaim for the product may not, however, translate into sales – figures for which News International has not yet released.  Wired Magazine sold 100,000 copies of its first iPad app, generating waves of interest among other magazine publishers.  Richard Branson quickly unveiled ‘Project’ and News International let slip that it was planning an iPad newspaper, to be called ‘the Daily’ in the new year.  Since then, however, according to The Financial Times ‘after an initial spurt of enthusiasm, sales (of paid for iPad publication apps) have been dropping’.

But it is probably too early to write off the iPad magazine market.  Apple has already sold 7.5m iPads and some analists predict that tablet and e-reader sales could hit 50m this year.  And most publishers appear to be feeling their way in the market somewhat uncertainly.  Some change more for online publications for print editions, other load products with so many hard-to-download features that mobile consumers are likely to stick with print.

The iPad publication chart does pose a bigger question, however.

Apple has traditionally demanded high and expensive compliance standards of app developers – which probably explains the dominance of the iPad app market by major traditional publishers.  Whether consumers will warm to a market where there is such a significant barrier to entry, after a decade of anyone-can-do-it internet publishing, remains to be seen.

Written by Tim Dawson

January 5th, 2011 at 8:40 am

App in the charts

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News International executives have long thought that iPad apps were the key to making their paywall a success.  The launch of The Sunday Times app yesterday, was then a pivotal day in the life of the pay-per-view experiment.  A memo to staff today announced that “The Sunday Times app has leapt to No 1 within 24 hours of being released, beating all other apps, including games.”

The app, which is free, allows users to access the iPad edition of The Sunday Times.  A separate app is necessary to view The Times content.  Once users have the app, they use their website or subscriber log-on details to access the content, which downloads to the device and can then be viewed without an internet connection.

Reaction to the iPad edition of the paper has been generally positive – although whether the excitement surrounding it is sufficient to make it a business success remains to be seen.

Written by Tim Dawson

December 13th, 2010 at 6:59 am

Posted in Paywalls

Poor renewals could sink NI paywall

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Detailed analysis of News International’s pay-to-view business suggests that the company’s inability to attract sufficient customers that renew could be the paywall’s death knell.   The research, by arch rival The Guardian, is reported in Press Gazette.

Written by Tim Dawson

December 8th, 2010 at 8:58 am

Posted in Paywalls

Readers still love print, survey suggests

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New research into how readers like their journalism suggests that traditional media are holding up well, reports Press Gazette.

The vast majority – 86% – of the two thousand people who responded to a survey conducted by KPMG said they preferred to read material in print form rather than on-screen. Almost 80% had read a newspaper or a magazine over the previous month.

But the ‘media and entertainment barometer study’ had less encouraging results for paywall advocates, with just 2% of people who currently use a website for free admitting they would be prepared to pay for access.

Written by Alex

December 6th, 2010 at 8:01 am

NI Paywall figures ahead of internal estimates

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Research by Oliver and Ohlbaum Associates suggests that The Times has converted 14% of its online audience to paywall subscribers of some kind – reports journalism.co.uk.  The findings were presented to an audience that included News International’s director of strategy and product development Dominic Young, who, in responding, did not contradict the figures.

Little wonder.  In the build up to the paywall, senior NI executives told staff that they expected to lose 96% of web traffic once the payment was required.  Even allowing for their deliberately dampening expectations, this suggests that the paywall has significantly exceeded internal expectations.

More fascinating still, though, is how analysis of NI’s paywall has polarised commentators.  Quite possibly the only definitive evidence of the paywall’s success of failure will come a year or so hence, when it becomes clear whether it is generating sufficient revenue to sustain the initiative.

Written by Tim Dawson

December 3rd, 2010 at 8:37 am

Posted in Paywalls

Picking through the paywall figures

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Much of the reaction to News International’s paywall figures announcement have been to try and crunch into the figures and find some greater truth.  Given the opacity of the figures, this is understandable.  Organgrinder and Paidcontent, are particularly worth looking up.

Getting to the bigger picture of News International’s ambitions, however, is something at which most commentators are fumbling.

James Murdoch’s avowed aim for some time now has been ‘getting closer to our customers’.  An important aspect of this is to establish direct financial relationships with them – which is one of the appeals of online subscriptions.  But don’t lose sight of the print subscribers.  Most comment has dismissed the 100,000 of these who have activated their entitlement to go behind the paywall.  For this group, the quality of the product bundle is obviously important, and access behind the paywall is could come to represent an increasingly pivotal part of this.

Far more significant, however, are the other groups that might be offered paywall access as part of bundles.  Nearly 10 million people subscribe the BSkyB.  There would almost certainly be regulatory issues were they to be offered newspaper subscriptions as part of their bundle – but with an increasing number of new televisions being sold equipped to access the internet, it is hard to believe that this possibility is not under consideration.

Were this to happen, the most significant impact might not be the revenue that it generated, but the effect that it had on other newspaper sales.  Who would want to be running The Mirror, or The Telegraph, if Sky subscribers were being offered their rival publications as part of their tv bundle?

Written by Tim Dawson

November 3rd, 2010 at 5:56 am

Posted in News,Paywalls

Times paywall reveals its figure

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The Times and Sunday Times has revealed that 105,000 people have paid to go behind the paywall since it was put up four months ago. Times Editor James Harding told listeners of the Today programme that paying readers were now engaging with content more deeply than before.

The company later explained that just over 50,000 monthly subscribers have now subscribed to the digital service – the rest had bought a single use pass or had taken out the initial 30 day trail and not renewed.  In addition to the digital-only subscribers, a futher 100,000 print subscribers have been accessing the newspapers’ sites.

Rebekah Brooks, chief executive of News International, declared herself pleased with the results.

She said: “We are very pleased to the response to our new digital services. These figures very clearly show that a large number of people are willing to pay for quality journalism in digital formats.  It is early days but renewal rates are encouraging and each of our digital subscribers is more engaged and is more valuable to us than very many unique users of the previous model.”

There is an interesting – if slightly hostile – crunch of the numbers over at Beehive City.

Written by Alex

November 2nd, 2010 at 4:14 am

Washington Post’s ex editor reflects on new digital age

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An interesting discussion on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme between Len Downie, the former editor of the Washington Post and Lionel Barber of the Financial Times on the future of newspapers.  Barber says that the FT has sold 400,000 of its iPhone apps and that FT subscriptions are up by 10% (over a non-specified period), and that is it a ‘great time to be in journalism’.  Downie, who is giving the James Cameron Memorial Lecture on 22 September at City University, London, sounds more nostalgic for the hay day of ‘big media’.

Written by Tim Dawson

September 21st, 2010 at 6:18 am