Writing ...

Apple + Tech

Is Murdoch about to save his newspaper empire with an app?

This is the default text

I find the changing media landscape fascinating. There are so many ways to dice it – yet the one constant is that technology is having a huge impact.

Is it time to buy NEWS shares again? Murdoch is demonstrating a willingness to adapt his newspaper empire to the iPad and iPod world.

One of my favourite bloggers, Horace Dediu, has posted a fascinating analysis of the changes in this space. He draws on some Morgan Stanley analysis to highlight that the amount of time spent by print viewers is disproportionately low when compared to ad spend – in other words, advertisers are not getting value for money out of their print advertising.

Horace then links to an Australian Financial Review article (appropriately behind a paywall correction, the article is available here) where Rupert Murdoch has explained that he will be starting a new newspaper in 6 weeks (around 10 December). This newspaper, thought to be titled The Daily, will have it’s own staff – but only journalists and 8-10 technicians. This paper won’t be printed, but will be sold exclusively as an iPad app for $1 per week. And Murdoch reckons this newspaper will need to sell only 800,000 copies (assume this is per week) to survive. Update: John Gruber claims that the subscription model for this app will be a first:

it’s a new subscription billing option for apps — true recurring subscriptions — paid through your iTunes account. News Corp’s “Daily”, then, would be just an app in the App Store, using subscription billing routines built-into iOS.

As someone who is presently paying $2.49 per month for the Fairfax produced The Age app I reckon Murdoch is onto something. I think the reading experience on The Age app is great. And at this stage it is only an iPhone app. I’m also a subscriber to the print edition (well, until the subscription expires early next year) but when they release an iPad app I won’t hesitate to subscribe. Why? The content is current. The content is well presented. I can easily choose and prioritise the sections that matter to me. The videos work (more about that below). My only disappointment is that the app doesn’t give me the Green Guide – that green piece of tabloid goodness which I read for the articles, the adverts and the TV guide.

The Age app is a winner: usable and current

The Age app also explains to me why the Fairfax websites still don’t play video content on the iPad or iPhone. And often they don’t even work on the Mac. Why? Because Fairfax don’t want them to work – I reckon they are building up their video offer to be a premium experience that you only receive if you pay. I reckon they’ve learned that giving away all their content has not enabled them to replace the classifieds’ “streams of gold” with online advertising revenue so this “new” offer will be sold for a price. Well Fairfax, well done, very clever. And you know what, I’m fine with paying for it.



  1. […] my examination yesterday of News Corp’s approach to the disruptive influence of smartphones, tablets and […]

Post a Comment