Bad enough the SMH iPad app is just a PDF, forcing a print subscription is insane

So yesterday Fairfax launched its Sydney Morning Herald iPad app. The strategy – designed to shore up print – and the execution – already derided by users as a “glorifed PDF reader” – are both laughable.

If there were ever doubts that Fairfax is two companies pulling in different directions, then the handling of the iPad app dispels them.  

SMH_Smart_Edition_mumbrellaPromoted by the print division rather than by Fairfax Digital, it’s already been slammed by iTunes users with the average review 1.5 stars out of five.

We’ll come to grips with their gripes about the functionality in a moment.

Let’s start instead with the dumb pricing structure of the so-called Herald Smart Edition.

Here’s how they explain it in their press release:

Fairfax Media has devised an innovative pricing model for this Herald Smart Edition app.

Subscribers to the Herald’s annual seven-day print subscription can access the app free of charge. Weekend print subscribers can access the app by upgrading to a new “Weekender” package, which costs $205 per annum and includes three days of newspaper delivery each week. Subscribers simply register through the iPad app to access the electronic edition.

New customers in New South Wales and ACT can access the app by purchasing a Weekender subscription, which includes three days of newspaper home delivery over the weekend and seven days of Smart Edition access. The weekender subscription is priced at $205 upfront for one year, or $18 every four weeks through automated direct debit payments.

New customers in states other than New South Wales and ACT can purchase a subscription to the electronic edition for the same prices: $205 upfront for one year, or $18 every four weeks.

The international electronic edition can be purchased outside Australia for $52 per annum.

Well that certainly is innovative.

When I saw this announcement on Thursday, I initially missed the most important point. If you’re in the SMH’s home state or Canberra, the only way you can get hold of the iPad app is to subscribe to the print edition.

Let me just run that one past you again – read this next sentence carefully. If you’re in New South Wales or ACT, the only way you can get hold of the iPad app is to subscribe to the print edition.

No doubt Fairfax would claim this is in response to some spurious insight that shows they’ve discovered a group of readers with busy on-the-go lifestyles during the week who want nothing more than to lock their shiny new iPad in the cupboard at the weekend and revert to newspapers. (Or as they put it: “gives you print delivery on the days you have time to stop and enjoy, and the electronic edition on the iPad or computer for the days when you’re on the go”.)

smh_complimentary_accessOf course, it’s not. It’s about using the iPad app as a way of shoring up plummeting print circulations. This is all about Fairfax being able to present its iPad subscribers to the Audit Bureau of Circulations as full price print subscribers who happen to be getting a “complimentary” copy of the app. Check out the language on its website.

Do you think those who subscribe will really be as committed print readers as, you know, real print readers? That’s what Fairfax will want their ABC certificate to suggest and that’s what they will want media agencies booking advertising into the print edition to think.

Issues like this suggest that the divide between the two parts of Fairfax urgently needs to be fixed. Rune-readers think that crossroads is coming.

In these attempts to grab just a few more print readers, Fairfax risks alienating those precious potential new iPad customers with its bizarre pricing tiers in one of several ways:

  • If I happened to already be an occasional reader of the print edition tempted to get the iPad app, that prescriptive you-must-subscribe approach is going to piss me off. (There’s so much other ground to cover that we might as well leave alone for today the bizarre fact that the so-called “Weekender” package lasts three days.)
  • If I only want an app edition, that approach is going to piss me off too, as it will feel as if I’m being forced to buy something I do not want. Inevitably I’ll wait until the app-only price arrives, which I’ll now expect to be cheaper than the bundled price.
  • And if I’m a potential subscriber to the iPad app in another state, knowing that I’m paying precisely the same as those in NSW who are also getting the print edition is going to piss me off.
  • I’d be even more outraged when I learn that those overseas are able to get it at the quarter of the price. Still, like most expats (of which Australia has quite a few by the way), I’ve still got a British credit card and IP addresses are easy to cloak.

(What could be seen as an attempt to game the audit numbers also says something about how newspaper publishers have lost confidence to the point where every move is a defensive one, by the way. Newspapers are still many consumers’ – myself included, as it happens – favourite medium. Rather than celebrating its strengths, too much effort has been put into smoke and mirrors. Self-serving surveys from Newspaper Works, shenanigans with weekend holiday editions being wrapped up as if they are one for audit purposes, implausible claims about why readership is down leave the newspaper industry – and Fairfax in particular – look constantly on the defensive. The less transparently it behaves the less credible the medium’s genuine positives seem.)

And what of the product itself? Fairfax boss Brian McCarthy was less than convincing when interviewed about it last month, making non-credible claims that would have seen Fairfax start work on the iPad app months before Apple even confirmed it was going to release a tablet device.

But if he was to be believed, the end result should be wonderful. According to the release: “Features unique to the electronic edition include easy zooming in and out, scrolling, clicking on a story to read in text form only if preferred, and click-on headlines to highlight individual stories.”

Wow. Zooming! Scrolling! Clicking! Innovative stuff, if PDFs hadn’t been invented in 1993. The paper is attempting to make a virtue out of delivering the paper “exactly as it was printed”.

But of the first 258 reader ratings, 205 have given it the lowest possible rating of one star out of five.

smh_ipad_itunes_ratings mumbrella

Bearing in mind that this is the SMH’s free trial version, suddenly The Australian’s 2.5 star average (or three for its latest update) for its $4.99 version is looking spectacular.

Comments have included:

“I was soooo looking forward this app, but I am just disappointed. It is messy and complicated to download with all the various sections and it just does not come up well on screen. Frankly I prefer the website…”

“The app information suggests I need to also subscribe to the print edition. Am I understanding this correctly? Why would I want a hard copy of the paper?”

“You – staggeringly – have to subscribe to the print version!”

“The Australian has had a dismal attempt at this and I almost put the SMH in the same category.”

“better to have released nothing than to release this awkward cash-in.”

“OK it is just PDFs with click throughs but it does what it says on the can.”

“This is an appalling piece of software, apart from crashes it is just a glorified PDF reader. Whoever coded this is a ham. Dreadful!”

“Without a doubt the worst app I have ever used. Clunky and not intuitive. This one should be withdrawn until they get it right. Shame on you Fairfax. I expected so  much better.”

Clearly, iPad subscribers don’t want the print edition. I’m sure that soon enough (as Gizmodo predicts) the SMH will give in on that point. By that point, the market will be thoroughly confused.

However, I’ll let CEO Brian McCarthy have the final word. After you read these comments from the press release, you may wish to pause and hold a moment’s silence for his departed sense of reality:

“This app, with others that follow, will clearly demonstrate that Fairfax is at the forefront of innovation.”

Tim Burrowes

Comments


  1. Tim Longhurst
    24 Jul 10
    11:12 am

  2. Great story, Tim. Also, shows just how committed Fairfax are to killing trees… Even people who would rather not waste the paper are forced into wasting paper. (?)

  3. Ashadi
    24 Jul 10
    12:16 pm

  4. The SMH app supplier is Newspaperdirect.com which has offered an app called ‘Press Reader’ to access global newspapers in this PDF format since 2009 and in May for the iPad – http://newspaperdirect.com/abo...../0505.aspx

    Find the app here.
    http://itunes.apple.com/au/app.....04711?mt=8

    The app is fundamentally the exactly same (version and all) except it’s been locked to the SMH and had Top Stories functionality removed.

    Up until recently the SMH was available in Press Reader. The Age still is still there as are most other Australian newspapers.

  5. SimonB
    24 Jul 10
    12:17 pm

  6. Tim, thankyou. You have just explained the missing link to me. I couldn’t understand why newspaper proprietors were missing the point of the digital age. Now I know – circulation of their print edition.

    As an example, I woke up at around 8am today, grabbed the ipad from the bedside table and it’s now 10am. I’ve read The Weekend Australian (via PressReader), browsed my favorite tech websites via my RSS reader and generally enjoyed my Sat morning so far.

    Why haven’t I read The West Australian yet? Because they don’t provide it for me to read (www.thewest.com.au is a joke) the way I want to. The stupid thing is, I would pay for it, but they won’t let me. So, I haven’t bought my (previously) normal daily copy since I bought my iPad. As a result, their figures will gob down.

    Never mind, they’ll just provide free copies to Skywest like they normally do….

  7. Ashadi
    24 Jul 10
    12:27 pm

  8. MediaSpy.org has comment from Fairfax – there is a digital publication on the way later this year – http://www.mediaspy.org/report.....app-store/

  9. MsWilson
    24 Jul 10
    12:54 pm

  10. Calling the SMH app an “app” is an insult. Having to subscribe to the print version is a joke, and shows a complete lack of understanding ( or care ) of their audience.

  11. edster
    24 Jul 10
    2:17 pm

  12. Fairfax’s fundamental problem, as Tim points out, is that the Print division of the company has essentially taken over the Digital division – and this is the perfect example of their lack of understanding of technology and how to monetise it properly.

    Secondly, the politics in that organisation are insane!

    I’m not going to bother installing the app. I’ve gotten used to reading the website just fine on the iPad.

  13. Aidan
    24 Jul 10
    2:30 pm

  14. Unbelievable! The pricing strategy is mad and trying to cook the circulation figures like that will hopefully be seen for the ridiculous move it is.

  15. Tim
    24 Jul 10
    2:35 pm

  16. I saw their (paper) Supplement, advertising The iPad App. And thought their image/mockup of The Print Version on an iPad was to make it easier for the general reader to understand what it was. Thanks for telling me that this is actually what you get, including the break through scrolling functionality.

  17. Alex Smith
    24 Jul 10
    3:42 pm

  18. If this is a sign of things to come in terms of merging the print and digital divisions of Fairfax then they are in big trouble. Why didnt Fairfax Digital insist on producing the IPad app for this and applying a more sensible pricing structure? Answer: Brian McCarthy is so print focused that he just can’t see the opportunity here. He clearly shouldnt be in the position he’s in. This relates directly back to the Crikey piece last week on McCarthy VS Matthews (FD’s CEO). If this latest disaster is anything to go on, the sooner Matthews takes the helm the better…..and with JB leaving the board this week, maybe that might be more likely than ever before.

  19. Joy Barrett
    24 Jul 10
    3:54 pm

  20. Does the link to Telstra mean that it will only work with a Telstra data plan?

  21. jonathon
    25 Jul 10
    8:22 am

  22. This is just retarded. What a fundamentally clueless way to launch what could be a tremendous opportunity in the Australian market (look at the Guardian’s brilliant iPhone app, and brilliant sales results, in the UK).

    Aside from the stupidity of forcing people to take out a $205 print sub, why would anyone prefer to use this app than use their iPad to surf the entirely free smh.com.au on the internet???

    Douchebags.

  23. Peter Wells
    25 Jul 10
    11:13 am

  24. Jesus, as Ashadi points out, it’s just the pressreader app with Smh as the only
    Paper available. Why on earth would I pay for this over a pressreader subscription?

  25. Ben S
    25 Jul 10
    6:08 pm

  26. Don’t think it could be more confusing. Lucky the website works just fine on Safari on ipad so can avoid opening my wallet altogether.

  27. alan jones
    26 Jul 10
    9:28 am

  28. Every time I’m in an airport terminal, every time I take my kid to the zoo, every time I go to any public event of any kind, there are the newspaper publisher’s casual staff stuffing circulation-bulking copies in my hand. What a waste of paper, energy and ultimately, carbon.

    So when the iPad comes out and newspaper publishers announce their enthusiasm for the platform, the optimist in me thinks, “Yay! A chance for newspaper publishers to finally Get It!”. But no, they seem determined to march right on to extinction with barely a glance to the right or left.

    One unhappy side-effect of just publishing a PDF to the iPad is the size of the file. On iTunes it says, “Publication download sizes vary from approximately 13MB to 75MB, depending on the number of pages in each issue.”

    If the average day’s issue is, say, 25MB, that’s a fair chunk of the average home’s monthly bandwidth allowance right there.

    Does everybody really need the entire newspaper? It’s digital, right, so couldn’t I just download the sections I’ll actually read?

    Fairfax just piling digital waste on top of paper waste. What an embarrassment.

  29. Riarn
    26 Jul 10
    10:13 am

  30. Alanjones, 25mbs is nothing in usage these days.
    There are some obvious pointers here about this app. The reason print are handling it, is because Fairfax see it as a threat to circ. This is the same reason that they have had this ‘brilliant’ idea to get it to push circ. with compulsory subs.
    What they have failed to see is that iPad numbers are so low that it wont affect circ at all. Having a few hundred extra print readers is insurmountable to the opportunity they have squandered by not using the iPad as an innovation, and rather trying to stifle its use.
    This has caused the app functionality to be terrible since they didnt get any input from their digital department who actually are in touch with this audience, but more importantly have worked on similar (iphone apps) projects before, and learnt the lessons already. As you have said Tim, they are using this app defensively to protect their business, since they arent innovative enough to roll with the market, or look to change their current model of publishing

  31. jonathon
    26 Jul 10
    10:19 am

  32. @Riarn

    “…they didnt get any input from their digital department who actually are in touch with this audience”

    joking?

  33. Not Amused - The Original 'Amused'
    26 Jul 10
    10:39 am

  34. The best examples of newspaper and magazine apps were designed by print guys. The SMH seems an exception to the rule.

  35. Ben S
    26 Jul 10
    11:03 am

  36. Alan Jones – i’m with you on the circ driving wastage. whenever i go to etihad stadium, on entry I’m handed a fat copy of the weekend Age (either Sat or Sun) which is the last thing I want in my hands when a game is about to start.

    Those who know – given this has been handed to me, am I claimed as a ‘reader’ by Fairfax?

  37. ANON333
    26 Jul 10
    11:11 am

  38. If it’s all about circulation- why not give it out for free everywhere?

  39. Rick
    26 Jul 10
    12:17 pm

  40. The real reason for this policy is that the advertising industry won’t allow digital versions of the print edition for audit. Without that they are never going to pay.

  41. Simon H
    26 Jul 10
    12:42 pm

  42. The Age actually had the same app (Press Reader) the weekend after the iPad was released in Australia. It was available for all of about 4 hours before they pulled it, presumably because it had the same negative ratings that the SMH is currently receiving.

    Obviously the only thing Fairfax has learnt in the interim is how to make the offering even less attractive.

  43. richard
    26 Jul 10
    1:26 pm

  44. 1.Joy Barrett
    24 Jul 10
    3:54 pm

    Does the link to Telstra mean that it will only work with a Telstra data plan?

    Joy

    You can use it on any data plan. But, if you have a telstra data plan you are still charged for the download, so with a 75mb file, you will use your (for example) 1gb monthly allowance in 13 days.

    Of course you can stay at home and download it via wi-fi (particularly as Telstra has finally upped its download capacity on most plans), saviing your valuable mobile download capacity, but if you were at home you may as well get the hard copy delieverd……………….oh thats right, you do

    Stupid Fairfax.

  45. Dave
    26 Jul 10
    1:43 pm

  46. Has anyone else downloaded the New Zealand Herald app for ipad? That app is great, its free and it actually makes good use of the ipad technology. It also integrates advertising in a good way – which you don’t mind because it is free.

    How can fairfax get it so wrong on SMH but do something completely different on the New Zealand Herald??

    Dave

    PS. Fairfax, if you want us to pay for content, you have to make it worth our while. If i want to read the paper edition, ill just do it at work, for free :)

  47. iusedtosellshit
    26 Jul 10
    1:45 pm

  48. This really is just beyond ridiculous.

    Fairfax are simply jumping on the iPad bandwagon and trying to push their own agenda rather than actually “getting” not only what the device is, but whats its users are doing with it.

    Why would I pay for you to simply something that i can get for free anyway? I am happy to pay, but for sweet baby jebus sake give me something new innovative and a reason to spend my cold hard earned cash….. oh wait… newspapers… print media…. Dodo birds…..

    Fairfax if your reading this. You would be wise to set up some iPad user focus groups to determine what users or your readers want instead of dishing out this utter tripe to consumers and expecting them to be happy.

    No doubt int he next few weeks we will see some press release saying “Our app has been downloaded XXX times! its a huge success” if only we could get data on how many times an app was downloaded then deleted an hour later!

    Sent from my iPad

    (ok it wasnt)

  49. Nick
    26 Jul 10
    1:47 pm

  50. I would’ve thought it was quite obvious why it was Fairfax Media that launched the app and not Fairfax Digital. Fairfax Digital hosts smh.com.au, The Sydney Morning Herald brand, whether it be in print or on the iPad, is a Fairfax Media brand.

  51. Brian
    26 Jul 10
    1:52 pm

  52. I’ve got an ipad and had the opportunity of viewing SMH via the Pressreader app a few weeks before it stopped appearing as free content within the app. The experience may not be the smoothest, but it gave me what I wanted … an image of the SMH newspaper … with ads, lift-outs and all.

    I liked it and was very much looking forward to it coming out as a standalone app. I’m was (and still am) prepared to pay for it. But when the new app was launched over the weekend, I was very disappointed to read that I had to sign up to a print subscription too! That’s NOT what I want! I want the digital version. Why would I want both the print and digital version?

    And what I want is available to international users for ~$50 a year. But as a NSW resident I can’t pay for that .. instead they want me to pay >$200 for print + digital delivery. I DON’T want the print version … I want the digital one only!

    I don’t buy the SMH, but would if I could buy the digital version. Perhaps SMH should market a digital weekly subscription at only $0.99 per week. That might go down much better! (At that price, I’d definately be a new customer!).

  53. Elizabeth
    26 Jul 10
    1:56 pm

  54. I was so excited to read about the new SMH App on Friday that I signed up straight away.
    This morning I looked at The Aust app as usual – it took a nanosecond to automatically download today’s news once I clicked on the app and I could easily find the stories I wanted.
    Then I went to the SMH site. I had to find the date of the edition I wanted – the app was dumping me into an August 2010 calendar – and then I was left scrolling and zooming through pages and pages to find the stories I was interested in. The delivery was quite cumbersome and a little glitchy.
    Far, far easier just to read the hard print paper.

  55. Tim Nicholas
    26 Jul 10
    2:00 pm

  56. If the newspaper proprietors keep stuffing up their adoption of digital delivery then they will hasten the demise of their print version. They will only have themselves to blame, and serves them bloody well right!

  57. Inky
    26 Jul 10
    2:01 pm

  58. Age monday circulation (paid) now down to 110,00, according to inside sources.

  59. notkidding
    26 Jul 10
    2:01 pm

  60. Riarn: “iPad numbers are so low that it wont affect circ at all”

    I actually heard that one of the major online research agencies did a survey of online Australians, and a very large % intend to purchase an iPad within the next 12 months!

    Ignore this new device at your own peril!

  61. Ange
    26 Jul 10
    2:04 pm

  62. I was actually a herald reader, till I got my hands on an iPad and switched to The Australian (I’m not loyal and it’s all I could get). I read about 80 per cent of the content available every morning – how ridiculous that I’m not including in the Australian’s circulation.
    Meanwhile, I downloaded the SMH app over the weekend and I have to say, I’m appalled.
    What a wasted opportunity, and a waste of my time as I had to slowly download large clunky documents. SMH already lost a massive audience by not releasing their app closer to the iPad’s release – one would have thought with that added time, they could at least come up with something half decent. The Australian’s app is not perfect, but it’s way ahead of anything any other daily metropolitan is offer.

  63. Billy C
    26 Jul 10
    2:30 pm

  64. Can you buy the app and then ask them not to deliver the paper?

  65. Matt
    26 Jul 10
    2:42 pm

  66. Sounds incredibly similar to the massive balls up that Fairfax have made with the AFR.COM set up. Most …nay all large corporates need to be able to share digitised information freely and AFR have made this impossible hence they lose more market share to The Australian and Business Spectator

  67. Riarn
    26 Jul 10
    2:51 pm

  68. @ Jonathon
    I have it on good authority that only the newspaper team worked on this. Above have some good reasons for this (canabilizing the paper would be the best).

    @notkidding
    Im not suggesting they ignore it, quite the opposite. I think they should embrace it in its form, not try to use it like a road block like they are.

    I think its niave of the media industry if advertisers and media buyers are scared off of working on integrated campaigns with the ipad because they cant count the readers yet. On your point, ignore this device and beware

  69. Charlie
    26 Jul 10
    2:53 pm

  70. What Dave (#23) said is on the mark. I pulled up the NZ Herald app yesterday and was blown away with it.

    I’ve refused the SMH app out of principle – I’ll just navigate it on Safari/atomic/icab on the ipad instead of paying for physical editions I don’t need.

  71. John Grono
    26 Jul 10
    2:57 pm

  72. Ben. The papers handed out at the MCG (c’mon … you’ve moved to Sydney … let’s say it’s the SCG!) are counted in the “event sales” category of circulation. “Event sales” are capped at 1% of Average Nett Paid Sales. So, let’s say that the Saturday Age is doing 280,000 copies, just 2,800 of the ‘give-aways’ can be counted as circulation.

    Giving away newspapers is a fair marketing exercise, and the newspapers need avery promotional and marketing channel open to them. If you read the fine-print of your ticket or membership you will find somewhere that the ticket price includes your copy of the newspaper – whether you take one or not, and whether you like it or not. Under this, they count as “paid”, which is why they are capped.

    As for readership, that is done by the Morgan surveys, so if you read the paper at the footy or take it home to read then you are a valid reader – there is no restriction on how you acquire that copy or whether you pass it on (which is why readers always exceed circulation).

    Regarding blending the ‘circulation’ of hard-copy and digital editions of a newspapers, we have to stop and think why we do circulation at all. At its simplest it is to verify the copies sold to those that pay for advertisements in that copy. If the digital edition and the hard-copy edition are different they have to be reported separately. If an adverstiser wanted a half-page on page 13 for strategic reasons, then the ad must be carried in the exact position in both sources of the copy. Of course in an on-line edition, we can have content linked in all sorts of fashions, ads on rotation etc – which is why they are not counted as circulated copies but are measured via impressions.

    I hope this clears up some of the metrics issues.

  73. Bob Wholeness
    26 Jul 10
    2:59 pm

  74. Great analysis, Tim.

  75. Sydney Gazette
    26 Jul 10
    3:05 pm

  76. But this is what Fairfax does. It’s had a decade or more of this.

    Brian McCarthy will be joining Fred Hilmer in the Fairfax CEO “Oops We Missed Another Digital Boat” Hall of Fame.

    Under the McKinsey&Co-trained genius of Freddy Hilmer, Fairfax managed to miss out on being;
    carsales.com.au (market cap today $1B)
    realestate.com.au (market cap today $1.2B)
    seek.com.au (market cap today $2.4B)
    Totally digital missed opportunity score card: $4.6 billion. oops.

    So is anyone really surprised they are stuffing up the monitisation of the ipad?

    It’s the great Fairfax CEO tradition. Chin out, talk tough and then have no shame in losing another sqillion dollar digital opportunity.

    No wonder John B Fairfax retired last week from the board – it must have been finally too sad to watch.

  77. Damien
    26 Jul 10
    3:23 pm

  78. The merits of placing a former print editor to be in charge of their app strategy and implementation is already proving to be a disaster for Fairfax. The digital division of Fairfax does a pretty good job, so why would you put a print dinosaur in charge of one of the most critical digital divisions?

  79. tabloidtwit
    26 Jul 10
    3:26 pm

  80. Given I have the squished tree edition, Thurs-Sun, for $52 a year (I think they sold it to me via a cinema membership), why on earth would I bother shelling out an additional $150 just to get the same thing on an iPad?

    Might as well put the cash towards the London Times paywall.

  81. David Young
    26 Jul 10
    4:18 pm

  82. the NZ Herald is nothing to do with Fairfax – it is owned by APN – I am sure the NZ Herald does not want to be associated with Fairfax who they see a big competitor in the NZ market.

  83. Inky
    26 Jul 10
    6:57 pm

  84. Damien @ #39: Putting Fairfax print editors in charge of Fairfax print products has been no less a disaster.

    The whole company, top to bottom, is a case study in whatever journalistic or commercial vice you might care to mention.

    If the best the opposition can muster is John Hartigan and Little Dick Freudenstein and Fairfax still come off second best, well you know they are thoroughly stuffed.

  85. Damien
    26 Jul 10
    7:39 pm

  86. @Inky – “Putting Fairfax print editors in charge of Fairfax print products has been no less a disaster.”

    That’s debatable given the above result! Fairfax Digital has pretty solid track-record, therefore i doubt they would have been so naive as to launch this product.

  87. Chris
    26 Jul 10
    10:12 pm

  88. It would have taken longer to get the App approved than it would to develop it. So the only upshot is that it can’t have cost them very much in resource time. Scrap it and start again.

  89. Richard
    27 Jul 10
    8:53 am

  90. Just realized why they have gone this way

    Sell an app, pay apple 30%

    Give an app away and sell a subscription through the web site? Give apple nothing

    Bet they won’t sell many subscriptions

  91. snoop
    28 Jul 10
    4:31 pm

  92. Great post Sydney Gazette

  93. Surly
    29 Jul 10
    3:43 pm

  94. I had a bit to do with Fairfax a few years back, helping them develop real-time news offerings for their website. I’m never met a more clueless lot. The fiasco with this app surprises me not at all. I’m very glad not to be a shareholder.

  95. Curious Pink
    31 Jul 10
    11:01 am

  96. am wondering if occurre d to any of the above that the evidence of profit in the app biz for news media has yet to emerge. It is hardly surprising that Fairfax and everyone else in that business is trying to hang onto the established business that does make money, even if it’s shrinking.

  97. Jonathon
    31 Jul 10
    11:21 am

  98. @Curious Pink
    Wired saw 100,000 downloads of their iPad app (average print circ 70,000). Guardian’s iPhone app could be around a £2m business, with a significant portion of that coming from overseas. True, the vast majority won’t make money, but given that no major Aussie newspaper has developed a truly native, consumer-focussed app experience, and also given the take-up of mobile devices in Australia, there is a solid opportunity there. And since when has releasing terrible products been a sensible business strategy???

  99. Peter
    1 Aug 10
    7:57 am

  100. While I agree with most comments, the common theme of print newspaper wastage bothers me. Don’t people realise the whole digital age, with mass production of computers, e- readers, mobile phones etc etc is incredibily wasteful. Not to mention the power required to run these devices and the fact we update them (throw them out) on a regular basis. Don’t be so smug about 21st century media wastage.

  101. curious pink
    1 Aug 10
    10:38 am

  102. @Jonathan

    You’re actually agreeing with me Jonathan. The numbers are meaningless in the context. The Guardian is rapidly going broke and it has by far the best digital strategy (with the possible exception of The New York Times.)
    News Media will have to create products capable of supporting prices far higher than those indicated so far. It;s simply nowhere near enough, even allowing for the shutdown of the print and distribution costs of newspapers.

  103. George Bear
    4 Aug 10
    1:37 am

  104. If newspapers spent more time on providing a better news and entertainment service they wouldn’t be facing a slow demise. E.g. when I’m reading an online story about F***edif I know wherestan I can click and discover, and maybe also see a display ad that invites me to watch a video ad to win a holiday to its famous whatever. Trouble is the boys and girls that run newspapers would need an atom bomb under there bums to get their brains outside an imaginary square. Just look at the level of innovation they have collectively invested in over recent years. Oh yes, the printing press.