News Corporation has formally unveiled its new ‘The Daily’ iPad news app.
At an event in New York, News Corp boss Rupert Murdoch shared the stage with Apple’s VP of internet services Eddy Cue to introduce the new app, which is the first to use Apple’s new subscription billing system.
"The iPad demands that we completely re-imagine our craft," said Murdoch, by way of introduction, promising that the new app will inform readers, make them smile and think, and engage them with the issues of the day.
"Our aim is for The Daily to be the indispensable source for news, information and entertainment… I’m convinced that in the tablet era, there’s room for a robust new voice… no paper, no multi-million dollar presses, no trucks! And we’re passing these savings on to the reader."
The Daily will cost $0.99 a week, although Murdoch described its target market as "the 50 million Americans who are expected to own tablets in the next ten years" – indicating that The Daily will not be available globally. There will also be an annual subscription option.
The app’s staff have been in live production for six weeks prior to launch, and the on-stage demo showed off some of its interactive features, including 360-degree images and video footage. It also uses a tactile carousel user interface to navigate through the pages.
Social features are built in to share stories, while The Daily app is also capable of linking out to the Web – something previous newspaper apps have been criticised for lacking. The ongoing protests in Egypt took front-page billing in today’s first issue, indicating a global focus for the publication’s coverage, if not its readership.
The Daily will be updated throughout the day, with new content pushed as it is published. Verizon is sponsoring the launch, meaning that the app will be free for two weeks before users have to start paying.
Apple’s Cue took the stage to reveal that there are more than 9,000 news apps available on Apple’s App Store – a figure that includes iPhone and iPod touch – with news apps generating more than 200 million downloads so far. He also hailed The Daily as "amazing… We think iPad customers are really going to embrace it."
In the subsequent Q&A session, Cue was asked about Apple’s plans to roll the subscription billing used for The Daily out to other news apps. "It’s available today on The Daily. You’ll hear an announcement from us soon for other publications," he said, keeping his cards close to his chest. Cue did say that publishers will be able to charge subscribers both through Apple’s in-app payments and on their own websites, rather than being forced to only use the former.
Murdoch was asked how he’ll judge when The Daily has become a success. "When we’re selling millions!" he joked.
"Our ambitions are very big, but our costs are very low… In getting to this stage with the development, we’ve spent $13 million dollars, which we’ve written off, but it will be running at a cost of less than half a million dollars a week, and that’s without any subscribers or any advertising, so we’re very confident with the finances."