Rupert Murdoch's much-trumpeted digital-only newspaper The Daily launched in New York today, with analysts pinpointing marketing and price as key factors that will determine its success.
The iPad-specific newspaper was unveiled at the Guggenheim Museum in New York, hosted by Apple's vice-president of internet services Eddy Cue and News Corporation chairman Rupert Murdoch.
Murdoch, presenting The Daily to a rapt audience, said it was a title "created from scratch" and thanked Steve Jobs for his involvement in the project.
He hailed Job's efforts with innovating digital channels over the years as "far-sighted", and said the arrival of the iPad has forced journalists to "re-imagine our craft".
He said: "The magic of newspapers and blogs lies in their serendipity and we can bring that magic to The Daily." Murdoch added he is convinced there is "room for a new and robust voice" in the era of tablet devices.
The Daily is accessed via an iPad app with no attendant website. It has two subscription models: $0.99 for a weekly subscription or $40 for a year. News Corp said it has no immediate plans to launch the product in the UK.
Launch advertisers include Land Rover, Virgin Atlantic and Pepsi, and The Daily will produce about 100 pages on a daily basis.
There are about 100 journalists working on the title, which will feature a mixture of unique content as well as editorial from Murdoch's sister paper The Wall Street Journal and other US publications including the New Yorker.
Undoubtedly, content will be a central factor in enticing readers to The Daily, but speaking ahead of its launch, analysts said such a pioneering project needs the support of stand-out marketing twinned with an accessible price-point, particularly given the slew of digital news alternatives in the US.
Douglas McCabe, an analyst at Enders Analysis, believes the size of the US population means it has a better chance of success there.
Mid-market national news
McCabe told Media Week: "The Daily is an interesting development and needs to be seen in context. It is a mid-market national news service for a country of 300 million people, so The Daily has a far greater chance of making the numbers work than an equivalent UK service."
While The Daily will save huge costs in print and distribution compared to a print launch, it is difficult to predict the rate of take-up, despite its high-profile publisher.
McCabe said: "Much will depend on the quality of the service and the content. In other words, The Daily's ability to inspire repeat usage and create long-term audience traction."
With a reported $30m invested in the project, The Daily has a lot riding on it, particularly in light of Murdoch's failure to get another major digital initiative, Project Alesia, up and running.
Like McCabe, Alex DeGroote, analyst at Panmure Gordon, said it would be ill-advised to suggest the title's success in the US could be mirrored in the UK.
He also warned that the youth-orientated magazine market has been declining for years, despite the arrival of the iPad and other tablets on the market.
The Daily's editorial content is expected to be skewed towards short, bite-sized news, with a focus on entertainment and gossip.
DeGroote said: "Given the success of apps in general, it could prove successful depending on the marketing effort and the price-point." But he is unsure whether others will follow suit.
He added: "More generally, mainstream publishers remain tantalised by the opportunity of delivering content online while remaining very wary of the impact on traditional models, dependent on circulation and advertising revenues."
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