Earlier today at New York's Guggenheim Museum, News Corp. mogul Rupert Murdoch unveiled his ambitious (and some say foolish) new publishing venture: The Daily, the world's first iPad-only newspaper. (Watch a video introducing The Daily.) Available from the Apple App Store for $.99 a week or $40 a year, The Daily blew through a reported $30 million in development costs, poaching journalists from some of the country's top publications to build its 100-person news team. Here, a sampling of first reactions to the brave new effort:
Content over form
"I think they've hired a good staff of writers and editors, but they need better designers and engineers," says John Gruber at Daring Fireball. While it's "better than most such efforts to date," it's "nothing groundbreaking," and the navigation can be "laggy" or "crushingly slow."
Winds of change
"The Daily is pretty breezily designed," says Darren Franich in Entertainment Weekly. "It takes full advantage of the iPad’s multimedia opportunities, with video coverage, interactive photo galleries, and plenty of audio components." The video advertisements "will almost certainly get old after a week or so" but other techno-twists — a piece on Rihanna, for instance, is accompanied by "a realtime feed from [the singer's] Twitter stream" — are interesting. The question remains: Will users pay for this?
More money questions
While I haven't yet seen The Daily, and there are better mathematical and business minds out there, I'm having trouble "trying to get my head around the economics" of the new venture, says Jeff Jarvis at BuzzMachine. It will cost "$55 million" in its first year, which seems bloated considering it sells for just $1 a week or $40 a year. "I hope" this news experiment is profitable. "I’d simply like to have a better idea of what it will take to get there."
The rag trade
"The general impression is more magazine than newspaper, with the kind of clever headlines, captioned photos and fitted boxes that are hard enough to do well on a weekly magazine and will be tough to produce on a daily's deadline," says Philip Elmer-DeWitt in Fortune. "The bells and whistles — that interactive tour through all the SuperBowl games in history, for example — will require a separate staff."
Is that all?
"So basically: It's like an iPad magazine, except it comes out every day," says Ryan Tate at Valleywag. Sorry: "Boring." The app itself "looked nice enough" if somewhat "humdrum, given the possibilities opened up by the iPad." It could be far more innovative, but "Murdoch did say the product will evolve," which it must do, given how "heavily" he has bet on it.