Murdoch, Jobs and iPad publishing

After months of rumours about media mogul Rupert Murdoch experimenting with iPad publishing, he has recently acknowledged that The Daily, a digital newspaper exclusive to tablets, is on the pipeline. The new digital title would be available for 99 cents per week on a subscription basis. Other details have not yet been confirmed, but News Corp is expected to have budgeted $30 million for the first year and a team probably leaded by the Sun's online editor Pete Picton or Jesse Angelo of the New York Post.

The news should not come as a surprise, since Mr. Murdoch has praised the iPad since day one and has been a strong advocate for paid-for content in a digital world where everything is available for nothing. He has also fought Google in an aim to protect copyrighted material and the future of his media conglomerate. On the other hand is Steve Jobs, who according to The Guardian has consulted The Daily to create an iPad app, also knows news content has to be the cash cow of the platform after the disappointing launch of iBooks

The experience cannot be too far from the paywall experiences with The Wall Street Journal and The Times in the UK, making parts of the websites only available to subscribers. I believe the reason behind it is not monetisation per se, but to attract a smarter (and paying) audience for advertisers. With this in mind, The Daily sounds to me like a great experiment that a News Corp can afford. With less than a year since it was launched, the iPad cannot be considered as mainstream as other Apple gadgets and its owners are definitely a market of its own. Other publishers have also gone semi-serious with iPad publishing, with Conde Nast reporting 32,000 Wired issues sold every month, The Daily could test the waters for other publications of the group. My experience flicking to ads on Wired's iPad app tells me that advertisers are keen to jump in the bandwagon. Perhaps its the revolutionary thing here is to get demographics and iTunes buying power.

The trend is that traditional print press joins the AppStore with apps of their news and magazines, which until now have been limited and only pushed content which was available on its websites and RSS feeds. While paid subscriptions have worked with in-app purchases, newspapers have struggled to get the public and even Steve Jobs has criticised some of them while embraced the news reading app Pulse publicly. Despite the good relations between WSJ and Jobs, I have to doubt that there has been any negotiation between both companies. While a digital edition saves all the distribution and printing costs of its print cousins, Apple's 30 per cent share on the AppStore and other terms for music labels and film studios, could defeat the purpose for media outlets. Maybe not for these two.