News Corp Shuts Down The Daily App: Sometimes Experiments Don’t Work Out

The Daily App was one of the first apps to launch with Apple’s iTunes subscription mechanism. An ambitious plan for News Corp to tap into mobile publishing, mobile news, and new revenue models. Today we’ve learned that News Corp is shutting down The Daily iPad app on December 15th. It just didn’t click.

All Things D broke the news this morning from a News Corp press release. The Daily iPad app and its team will go to work on the New York Post and its digital properties:

“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.”

So, what happened? All Things D puts it pretty sucintly:

The app was initially hampered by technical problems, but the Daily’s key issue was a conceptual one. While the app boasted lots of digital bells and whistles, in the end it was very much a general interest newspaper that seemed to be geared toward people who didn’t really like newspapers. You can’t make that work no matter what kind of platform it uses.

Again, The Daily was a bold experiment. It was something that hadn’t really been tried before. It didn’t work. Ouch. Tragic? No. Wasted effort? No.

The fact of the matter is that we don’t fully understand media consumption in the digital space completely. New approaches like The Magazine seem to be working (can’t wait for the next issue), but here in Canada publishing giant PostMedia changed its model of completely free apps and content for newspapers like the Ottawa Citizen, Calgary Herald, and Vancouver Sun (plus a range) of others to a subscription model within the app. Will that work in the long term? Who knows.

Best we can tell, The Daily has already been pulled from the App Store so the clock is winding down on the app already.

The digital news space is an area that is hugely complicated in a time when you can consume a tremendous amount of news for free (on the web or through an app) so that asking for people to pay for content goes against the grain. Can others (like The Magazine) success where others have failed? Maybe. Will Postmedia wind up changing its tune with its paywalled apps? Maybe (doubt it, though). All we know is that the bold experiment of bringing a general interest paper with a subscription model didn’t work—this time.

Newspapers photos from Flickr by NS Newsflash.

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  • Alan

    Never bought The Daily, so don’t really care. As you’ve mentioned, there is so much free news available, never figured out why someone would pay for it.

    An ad-based magazine would have probably done well, though not sure if it would have been economically viable for News Corp.