The Daily, one of the most discussed Apple-related rumors of late 2010 that turned out to be a poorly designed iPad-only magazine, is shutting down on December 15. AllThingsD reports, in fact, that parent company News Corp. will “cease standalone publication” of the app later this month. Technology and “assets” from The Daily will be folded into News Corp-owned The New York Post, a tabloid. News Corp.’s Murdoch was quoted in the press release:
From its launch, The Daily was a bold experiment in digital publishing and an amazing vehicle for innovation. Unfortunately, our experience was that we could not find a large enough audience quickly enough to convince us the business model was sustainable in the long-term. Therefore we will take the very best of what we have learned at The Daily and apply it to all our properties. Under the editorial leadership of Editor-in-Chief Col Allan and the business and digital leadership of Jesse, I know The New York Post will continue to grow and become stronger on the web, on mobile, and not least, the paper itself. I want to thank all of the journalists, digital and business professionals for the hard work they put into The Daily.
The Daily is not a legacy brand moving from the print to the digital world. We have license to experiment. We believe The Daily will be the model for how stories are told.
Murdoch’s intent may have been noble enough to justify the effort, but The Daily — as an app — was flawed since the first issue. The interface was clunky and confusing; the app required large downloads, and, in just a matter of weeks, its readership substantially decreased, in spite of heavy promotions by News Corp, including a commercial that aired during the XLV Super Bowl.
The promised iPad-only newspaper, The Daily, that News Corporation created with some Apple support and launched in February this year has continued to sell poorly. Bloomberg reports from an advertising executive, John Nitti, that the newspaper is averaging just 120,000 readers a week (which includes those who are on a two-week free trial of the publication). He says the subscription numbers are less than a quarter the number that is required for the publication to make money.
When The Daily was unveiled in February, News Corporation Chairman and CEO, Rupert Murdoch said “We believe the Daily will be the model for how stories are told and consumed”. He spoke of how the publication would have the speed and versatility of new technology with the “serendipity and surprise” of newspapers – making ‘newspapers’ “viable again”.
News Corporation did reveal that more than 1 million people had downloaded the app between February and June but had declined to give out figures of actual readership. In May, News Corporation COO, Chase Carey defended the publication calling it a “work in progress”, and it being “early days”. Murdoch revealed in February that they had invested $30 million in the project, hiring over 100 staff and required a readership of 500,000 to break even.
The Daily, the iPad-only magazine built by News Corp. with help from Apple when the two companies unveiled iTunes app subscriptions in February, is about to hit 1 million App Store downloads, TechCrunch reports. At the TechCrunch Disrupt panel entitled “Disrupting Publishing from Tablets to Links”, The Daily publisher Greg Clayman said the app is nearing the important milestone of 1 million downloads, though he didn’t provide any details on the number of people that decided to subscribe to the app since late March, when The Daily started charging for content after an initial free run sponsored by Verizon Wireless. The Daily currently comes with in-app subscriptions priced at $1 per week or $40 per year; a report from April suggested The Daily, both because of paywall and editorial choices, was seeing a decline in popularity in spite of Apple’s heavy promotion on Apple.com and the App Store homepage. Others suggested the same when News Corp. confirmed 800k downloads in 3 months and a $10 million loss over the last quarter to run The Daily operations.
However, 1 million downloads is a notable milestone that, in the words of Clayman, puts The Daily “in the large pantheon of large news apps.” Our first impressions of the app still hold true today — The Daily isn’t the fastest news app available on the App Store and not even the iPad 2′s beefier processor managed to make The Daily run smoothly without crashes of sorts. The Daily is expected to become available on more devices later this year, including the Android tablets that have been rolling out in the market in the past months.
It’s not looking good for The Daily, the joint collaboration of Apple and News Corp. that launched in February as an iPad-exclusive magazine featuring the new iTunes subscription system. During today’s News Corp.’s March quarter earnings call, the company revealed the app is still a “work in progress” that generated a $10 million loss over the last quarter, as reported by Peter Kafka at MediaMemo.
For instance: Asked to comment on The Daily’s performance, Carey says it’s a work in progress, which lost $10 million last quarter. Then, in the background, someone — most likely CFO Dave DeVoe, mentions “800,000 downloads”.
Assuming that’s the actual number, that’s the first time anyone from News Corp. has talked about the iPad app’s performance. I’ve asked News Corp. to confirm.
MediaMemo also reports the 800k figure is for downloads through iTunes, not paid subscriptions. Downloads below one million seem to be a little low for The Daily, which was heavily promoted by Apple on its website and the App Store with multiple weekly homepage features. News Corp. itself stated several times in the past that the app was set to expand to more devices (like Android tablets) in the future, but it appears that Apple is still holding an exclusive on it as of today. Apple for instance helped The Daily’s team implementing subscriptions before the app’s launch giving them access to unreleased APIs not available to other developers, and News Corp. even tried to push the app to millions of eyeballs with a remarkable Super Bowl commercial. However, a few weeks ago rumors started to surface about The Daily’s slow decline in popularity and social media engagement, in spite of the publication even offering a website to read news coming from the iPad version.
Decline, plateau, decline: New data on The Daily suggests a social media decline and a tough road ahead
The data doesn’t look good for The Daily. Its activity on Twitter seems to match my own perceptions of how they’re doing — an early rush of excitement; a decline as people lost interest and the app struggled with technical problems; a plateau once the tech got sorted out; and then another decline once the app started charging users.
The data here only takes tweets into account, and not the actual number of The Daily subscribers. While there has been a general decline in tweets with occasional upticks depending on the content being promoted for that day, I ask whether this is a fair assessment of the number of people using The Daily versus how people use The Daily. I know for a fact that I would share articles I found interesting on Twitter, but would somebody like my parents who’re switching to a digital format even bother? Once I tweet an article on Twitter, what return am I getting out of it? As MacStories writers, our whole audience is interested in tech (specifically Apple news), thus I don’t know if I’m going to see a lot of retweets if I share a sports article. Too, the social implementation in The Daily isn’t as user friendly as it could be, and without the flow that apps like Flipboard have, you’ll certainly see a decline in interest over time. The next thing to look at would be whether Facebook sharing declined and how many people are utilizing The Daily’s comments section (and audio tool).
I don’t argue that The Daily isn’t seeing a decline in readership, but I want to see (though probably impossible) heat maps of how customers are interacting with articles, complaints on Twitter about usability, and most importantly subscriber numbers. The Daily certainly got its fair share of promotion in the media, but are people prepared to move from finding free content on the Internet into a dedicated news source that they have to pay for? We’ll save these ideas for another time, but Joshua Benton has shown that social interactions with The Daily have seen a substantial decline.
Sources have told AllThingsD that News Corp’s The Daily, which is currently an iPad exclusive daily newspaper, will be heading to Android in the coming three months. Whilst it was always planned for The Daily to head to the Google operating system and propagate onto as many tablets as possible it wasn’t expected to happen at this rapid rate.
The News Corp team got some extensive help from Apple in regards to technical details and was also the pioneering app to use Apple’s new subscription service. The event in which The Daily was launched was not only supposed to include Steve Jobs, but Rupert Murdoch, News Corp CEO said at the event that “we think last year, this year, and next year will belong to the iPad.”
The most popular iPad newspaper these days, The Daily, just got an update that aims at improving performances and stability of the app and fix Twitter login and posting issues experienced by several users.
Version 1.0.1 indeed feels slightly faster in some sections from our first tests, although the carousel view is still pretty slow to browse. The initial download of new issues takes too many seconds. Overall, there have been some improvements but the main structure of the app still doesn’t feel as responsive as a digital newspaper should be.
Fonts In Use shares our same views on the problems with text in The Daily:
Text typography is still the weakness of nearly every iPad publication. Presented with a device that echoes the dimensions of a printed page, designers — especially those in the news world — feel obligated to stick with print conventions: static text set in justified columns. The Daily suffers the same shortcomings. When the columns are wide enough (see above) full justification works. When columns are any narrower (see below), letter- and word-spacing stretches to distraction, even with hyphenation. I admire the way text layouts change when switching between vertical and horizontal orientation — pull quotes often pop in when appropriate — but the typesetting requires more attention. Articles rarely scroll, but when they do, it works just fine. It makes one wonder whether the very short story lengths are a preference of the design staff or an editorial staff unwilling to put more meat on the table.
It also makes me wonder: will we ever see an iPad newspaper / magazine with proper text manipulation? Does’t that fall under the “interactivity” promised by many publications? [via]
In case you missed it a few minutes ago, here’s the commercial News Corp. ran during the XLV Super Bowl to promote its iPad-only newspaper, The Daily. The ad is admittedly cool and nicely animated, too bad we’ve seen the app is nowhere near the fluidness from the video below. If The Daily was as fast and stable and snappy as the app from this ad, it would be perfect.