retail news in context, analysis with attitude

by Kevin Coupe

Content Guy’s Note: Below is a commentary on the same subject as the video piece, but it isn’t word-for-word the same. You can look at both, or is up to you. I look forward to hearing from you.

When Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. spent millions of dollars to put together The Daily, promoting it as the first national newspaper created specifically for the iPad and other tablet computers, it seemed like a good idea. But that assumed they were going to do it in a way that made sense editorially and creatively, and that they were going to create something that actually used the advantages of the iPad to make news coverage come alive in a timely and illuminating way.

Unfortunately, they seem to have none of the above. And the result is a cautionary tale for every business looking to take advantage of 21st century technologies to light a fire under their 20th century business models.

If you’ve ever used an iPad - and if you are a business leader in 21st century America, there is no excuse for not having at least played with one, so you know what all the excitement is about - you know that one of the advantages is the ability to finger swipe your way through content; everything quite literally is at your fingertips, and on the good sites, navigation is fairly intuitive.

The Daily, however, is a mess. The layout is supposed to be along the lines of traditional newspaper sections, but the real advantage of the a site like The Daily ought to be the ability to drill down, to get more information and deeper analysis on the subjects that interest you. Not here...not at least as far as I can tell. And as a review in Advertising Age points out, sometimes The Daily is startlingly shallow - it gave three sentences to the 100th birthday of Ronald Reagan, and four sentences to the shark fin soup controversy.

The pictures may be great, but they don’t really create a narrative, which is what The Daily needs to do in order to become compelling reading and an everyday habit for American newspaper junkies with an eye on their iPads.

And here’s the biggest problem. The damn thing appears to be updated once a day - unlike the websites of, say, Google and Yahoo and the New York Times and the Washington Post and the Wall Street Journal and USA Today and even the New York Post - all of which provide updates on breaking news as they happen.

No, it almost seems like the people who invented The Daily really didn’t understand the advantages of tablet computer technology and the internet - they’d read about them in a book somewhere (though probably not on a website), and thought they could impose order on chaos. Ignoring the fact that those of us who use the internet thrive on chaos, or at least have figured out how to create order ourselves, order that reflects out own priorities.

Oddly enough, The Daily reminds me of nothing so much as AOL - which is what I first used when I learned about the internet, because it helped give focus to something I did not really understand. But that was a long time ago, and the world - and readers - have come a long way. The Daily is an anachronism. Worse, it’s useless.

The lesson for other businesses is pretty simple. Just adopting certain technological attributes doesn’t make you relevant, or savvy, or even worth the customer’s attention. You have to do it right, you have to do it smart, and you have to think not just about the technology, but also about how the customer uses the technology, and what customers want from it. None of which the people behind The Daily seem to have done.

The folks at The Daily keep telling me that my free subscription term is about to end, that pretty soon I’m going to have to start paying for it.

I have no problem paying for internet content. I think it is entirely fair, and I have paid subscriptions to a number of online publications because I think the content warrants it. But for The Daily? No way.

That’s what’s on my mind this Thursday morning. As always, I want to hear what is on your mind.
KC's View: