All eyes on Rupert Murdoch and Apple for the launch of the first iPad daily
After a 45-minute presentation, The Daily was set to go live on the Apple App Store at 12:00 p.m. EST. Here's the link. There's a video tour here. The press were treated with pre-loaded (loaner) iPads in the lobby. A quick hands on:
Paging through The Daily took about 10 minutes. 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. The bells and whistles -- that interactive tour through all the SuperBowl games in history, for example -- will require a separate staff and are likely to be on-offs.
The issue was about 100 pages long, which they say will be typical. The flow was broken up every few pages with a full-page ad. The navigation was tricky; there's a table of contents for the "news" section, but not for "gossip," "opinion," "art & life," "apps & games" (!) and "sports." The fastest way to find out what's in an issue turns out to be the carousel button on the top right, which gives you the album view Apple introduced on iTunes.
The good news for skeptics who predicted that Murdoch was creating a walled-garden product, totally cut off from the Internet, is that the The Daily will be making HTML pages (without bells and whistles) available on the Web, where they will be shareable and linkable. Maybe it won't be, as some predicted, DOA.
UPDATE: After 45 minutes reading The Daily on the subway ride home, we're not sure about that DOA thing. The lead stories -- the Cairo protests and winter snowstorm -- read like pieces dashed off by one-man bureaus and can't compete with, say, the New York Times, memeorandum or the Weather Channel. There are plenty of cheesecake celebrity photos, but they're not going to turn the heads of kids raised on Internet porn. The only bite I could find in the copy was at the end of Richard (Page Six) Johnson's gossip section, which treats readers to blind items like this one:
"Which hard-partying, hot mess of a premium cable actress recently learned she is pregnant? No one knows who the dad is -- not even the knocked up actress..."
Spare me, please.
The live coverage follows in reverse chronological order, with the most recent items on top. All times are EST.
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11:27 Q&A. How are back issues handled, which can fill up the iPad's memory pretty quickly. (They're working on it.)
Q: When is subscription pricing coming to other publishers. A (From Eddie Cue): It's available today for The Daily. For the rest, you'll be hearing an announcement from us very soon. (In other words: Apple is changing its subscription model across the board, but it's going to announce it in its own time and at it's own event, not Murdoch's.)
Q: For Murdoch: How will you measure success? A: By selling millions. The $30 million startup costs have all has been written off. It will be running at a cost of less than 1/2 million dollars a week before counting any advertising income.
Q: Who is your competition. A: You are competing with Angry Birds at some level.
Q: What's the editorial position, will it be more centrist to reach the tech readership? A: Murdoch: The editorial direction will be in the hands of the editor.
Q: When will it be on other tablets? A: As other tablets get established, we will develop the technology to appear on them. But last year, this year and perhaps next year belong to Apple, says Murdoch.
Q: What are your favorite apps? A: I tried playing some of the games, but I find my 7-year-old beats me every time, says Murdoch.
Q: Mr. Murdoch, did Steve Jobs say anything to you about the product? A: He did call me last week and did say that they app was really terrific.
Q: How can it be discovered on the wider Web? A: Cue: We've downloaded 10 billion apps, so we think people will discover it. (That ducks the question about linking to the Web?)
Second A: A lot of what we do, text headlines, pictures is shareable on the Web. We create mirror HTML pages and they are on the Web. We may choose to promote in Twitter, Tumblr, etc. But not all the bells and whistles.
11:23: Apple's Eddie Cue takes the stage. Rattles off the iPad sales and app figure, including some 9,000 news apps. New subscription billing with one click: Weekly at 99-cents, yearly at $39.99. No clarification of what this means for all the other publishers who are still trying to sort through yesterday's confusion about In App purchases. Perhaps the Q&A will clear it up.
11:13 John Miller launches the (live) demo. Leads with Egypt. Choosing the right media to cover the story -- text, photos, video. 360 degree photos, audio. Says they are going to do it every day, although how fancy they can get on a daily deadline remains to be seen.
Navigation is pretty open, including a iTunes type album views. Lots of sharing -- e-mail, Twitter right on the page. Fox News talking heads. Games and apps featured. Lots of touch and animation, like the SuperBowl timeline that shows every game through history. Hotspots with bullet points. (Very labor intensive stuff to do on a daily.)
Published every morning. Updated throughout the day. First two weeks free, courtesy of Verizon (vz).
11:11: Murdoch: New times require new journalism. Our challenge was to take the best of traditonal. journalism -- shoe-leather reporting -- and combine it with the best of technology.
Simply put, the iPad demands that we completely reimagine our craft.
The magic of newspapers and blogs is the element of surprise and the deft touch of a good editor.
We must make the business of newsgathering viable again.
11:05 Lights down. Enter Rupert Murdoch, with iPad. Thanks the "amazing Steve Jobs" who has changed media and has given us "this amazing new platform."
11:03 There is chatter in the audience that iPads may be handed out to attendees after the event. That would be one way to get readers -- not to mention coverage.
11:01 How do you know this is not a Steve Jobs event? It's running late.
10:58 There is a website -- http://www.thedaily.com/launch -- that was showing a live feed, at least for a while. Perhaps it will recycle from the beginning.
11:56 The buzz in the room has started to build. Former NYC school board chairman (and Microsoft prosecutor) Joel Klein just sat down in front of me.
10:50 With ten minutes to show-time, there are still an awful lot of empty seats in the Peter B. Lewis auditorium. The press seats are nearlly full, but the VIP front row is mostly empty. Perhaps the ice-storm dampened the enthusiasm of Murdoch's friends.
10:38 The press and VIPs gathered in the lobby as museum goers filed past. As promised, the doors to the basement auditorium opened shortly after 10:15. To the delight of the live-bloggers, the Wi-Fi signal is strong.
10:35 We're here at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum on Manhattan's East Side for the launch of News Corp.'s (nws) latest project: The Daily, an iPad-only daily newspaper created in close collaboration with Apple (aapl).
[Follow Philip Elmer-DeWitt on Twitter @philiped]