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The zeitgeist and making a quid out of news

The Ipad and its creator

I am not by any stretch of the imagination an “early adopter” of modern technology. I very much prefer to wait and see if an item of the electronic species  will live up to the hype rather than splash out my own cash in the hope that it does do all of the things that its makers may claim about it. My cell phone is a few years old and one of the most basic models from Nokia and frankly I have yet to work out how to send and receive texts with it but it does make and receive calls very well and that is its most important function to me. None the less I find the ongoing development of the New Media quite fascinating.
Looking back over the last decade one can see that the big players in print and broadcast media have been rather slow to work out just how to successfully monetise their presence on the Internet and frankly now that they realise that the only way to make a decent quid out of news reporting on the net is with some sort of subscription service rather than entirely relying on advertising as they have done for print or broadcast media. But for subscription services you have to have either a product that a few people feel that they can’t live without so they are willing to pay a good price for  it or one where the sub is so low that the disposability of the content does not matter.

A formal announcement about the new publication, called The Daily, had been slated for Wednesday. News Corp chairman Rupert Murdoch and Apple chief executive Steve Jobs were scheduled to attend a launch event at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.

The Wall Street Journal reported that News Corp and Apple were delaying the launch while the two parties work out some kinks in the subscription platform for delivering the paper.

News Corp, parent company of News Limited, which owns The Australian, has staffed bureaus around the US to provide material for the new publication. It will cover general news, culture and entertainment and will include video.

Since it went on sale last year, the iPad has given fresh hope for the survival of professional journalism in the digital age. Traditional publishers are betting the iPad and its imitators can help provide new sources of advertising and subscription revenue.

And many of them need it. The economics of news on the broader web have been brutal for print publishers. Space for web advertising typically sells at just a fraction of what it does in print, and few publications have successfully charged readers for online access to stories.

When I heard that the subscription price for “the Daily” is going to be a very low I instinctively thought that Murdoch may well be onto a winner in the commercial sense here. When the cost of the service is very low customers don’t really mind if the content is superficial and the focus on the trite and trivial. They won’t mind at all.In fact there may well be many people who will happily pay their sub just for the trite and trivial. I can’t see how this can fail commercially. The quality of the content and the Journalism may worry media nerds and news junkies but I think that far too many of them fail to appreciate that the majority of people just don’t care as much about in-depth analysis as they care about having something that makes the feel that they are in touch with what is happening in the world.

In our modern world its a case of the media that hooks into this Zeitgeist will make a quid rather than the one that panders to what the intellectuals are sure that everyone should be  immersed in, a deadly serious and in depth analysis of world events may rock the boats of the intellectual classes but for most ordinary people its all just colour and movement on a screen.


Cheers Comrades


At Chez Hall we love modern technology

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