The iPad, and thus all Tablet/Slates, are/were heralded as the saviors of print media. New ways of distributing and charging for the content that the create would save the sagging publishing industry Or so the theory still goes. But there have been speed bumps along the way as the publishers haven’t quite figured out the business model and in some cases how to take advantage of the new form factor.
No where is that more apparent than with the NY Times. Brought on stage at the launch of the iPad, everyone assumed that the Gray Lady would have a prominent place in the App Store at launch. Well it did and didn’t. The NY Times released what it called its Editors Choice App that didn’t provide access to all of its daily content. It was updated once or twice to add a few sections of the paper. But it was in the end a taste of what the paper offered, even if it was done well. Even Steve Jobs was apparently a bit miffed that the NY Times didn’t go full out with all of its content.
Well, today the NY Times is releasing a new App with a full version of the paper, replacing the Editors Choice App. It’s free, at least until the end of the year, and that will be the catch and what is worth watching. The debate over how the Times will monetize content on these platforms continues and obviously the brain trust is hoping that the drug pusher model works. They get us hooked and when they pull the trigger on adding a price to the equation, enough of us will be addicted to follow along and pay the piper.
The challenge here is that the Times will have to do the same thing with its website because readers can just go there if it remains free. And keep some history in mind. The NY Times at one point made some of its content with a premium subscription model. On several levels that didn’t work out. Internet readers could still find the content for free without too much difficulty, and the drop off from readers who simply didn’t take advantage of the premium model and gave up on reading it, obviously hurt enough that the Times abandoned that plan. That said, the NY Times has always been in the forefront of trying to make this work as a part of its business model. The Times Reader Apps that existed before what we now define as Apps was an excellent piece of software.
But for now if you want to check it out on the iPad you can for free. I imagine we’ll see this on other Tablet/Slate platforms as well. But the real question behind all of this still remains. Will this new wave of “consumption” devices actually work for content producers who depend both on customers buying the content and advertising?