The Daily – Murdoch’s next My Space?


I didn’t get it when details were first being leaked and now the wraps are off Murdoch’s The Daily I still don’t.

If it wasn’t for the Digger’s very deep pockets and obvious enthusiasm for the iPad the plug would have been pulled long ago.

As former BBC tech editor Darren Waters put it in a Tweet: A newspaper on a connected device that updates once a day? What use is that to anyone?*

Ex-Guardianista Emily Bell weighed in with: Playing with The Daily. It doesn’t look like the future of newspapers, it doesn’t even look like the future of apps.

Now that’s a bit harsh. As an editorial product it’s a curate’s egg – but the good bits are good – though it dates horribly quickly.

It has strong imagery, including some dynamic 360-degree stuff, a nice gallery on the big US snowstorm, and an interesting light-and-shade mix of stories: The Battle for Cairo, a disco for dogs in New York, and a stated mission to campaign for improved schooling in the US.

Navigation is quirky with some elements requiring you to turn the iPad through 90 degrees to get the full benefit of the content and, as a colleague put it, there are times when you’re left stubbing the screen like a caveman because you’re not sure what’s linked and what’s not.

But leaving aside the editorial components, it’s the strategy behind The Daily that seems flawed to me.

It’s iPad only and, even though millions of iPads have been sold worldwide, it’s a niche device and will remain so amid an explosion of tablets in all shapes and sizes and at much lower price points.

Paid Content founder Rafat Ali Tweeted that, for him, if The Daily was to be read daily “it needs to be on the iPhone. As a commuter read, at least in NYC, NYT iPhone app is my subway paper.”

Here in London I never see people using iPads on the Tube. It’s portable but it’s not mobile and constant orientation changes to move through content isn’t an optimal interface when you’re strap-hanging.

I think The Daily is a Murdoch hobby project, a flag-waving device, and an attempt to prove that charging for content is a viable – but on a niche tablet that’s only getting updated once a day I wonder where he’s going with this?

For the Telegraph’s Shane Richmond it’s down the pan – but I suppose he would say that, wouldn’t he.

*Update: Launch editor Jesse Angelo said it would be possible to insert breaking news updates on The Daily, which begs the question, why wasn’t it done for the launch?


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