Why The Daily’s Detractors Are Missing The Point

Rupert Murdoch and The Daily logo

The cacophony from people not “getting” The Daily is deafening.

Many ridicule the new publication for not updating every minute of every day, like yet another bloody Twitter feed. They’re overthinking it – this is exactly its raison d’ĂȘtre.

The simple strategic truth behind The Daily is, tablets are going to be huge. Murdoch knows this. The Daily is merely an early embrace of the most booming medium.

Many hip online observers who believe that digital platforms should be a place to experiment will nevertheless slate Murdoch for doing exactly that – some cannot see beyond their own loathing of him.

Yet how many other publishers lately have had the courage not just to migrate their legacy brands while managing analogue decline – an approach that has still not yielded a revenue cross-over – but also to kickstart a totally new enterprise precisely for the digital future? While News Corp converts its existing newspaper portfolio to tablets as a bulwark against the post-print economy, it has also now created a foil against the possibility that these brands’ transition may fail. What’s so wrong about placing multiple bets?

People can criticise The Daily‘s current execution and its UI. In the broad arc that tablets will produce, this is unimportant – digital products can be improved and changed. Indeed, The Daily in its current manifestation is the fault or responsibility, depending on your persuasion, of its staff, not Murdoch – it’s he who has set forward a perfectly logical general strategic and experimental direction that could win big if successful and will inflict minimal collateral damage if not. After all, The Daily must not be judged in isolation but, rather, as a component of News Corp.’s publishing roster – the company is feeling out what the future looks like.

Aghast that The Daily is published, well, daily, many will trot out the usual insult that “Murdoch doesn’t ‘get‘ the internet“. But, despite each being electronic, tablets aren’t necessarily the internet, or certainly not the web – Murdoch’s looking beyond (or perhaps behind) both.

As much as a daily publishing schedule mimics the circadian rhythm of ye olde newspaper, even its look and feel, it also speaks to a potentially growing feeling of information overload amongst consumers who certainly read copious breaking news fragments throughout the day but who might want a smart, habitual daily read during their down-time hours, the time when tablets are mostly used.

Many of The Daily‘s critics aren’t necessarily even the target audience of younger, less newsy info-grazers…

As many units as iPad has shifted, right now it’s still mostly used by constantly-connected, Twitter-obsessed web news junkies like you and I. But iPad’s first-year sales will be dwarved by those it and others will clock up long in to the future – when the mass-market joins the throng, as it now has with smartphones of various kinds, consumer needs may be entirely different, perhaps even a bit more conventional.

Of course, this may well turn out not to be the case – the market is nascent – but the rewards are potentially so great, it’s certainly worth a punt – News Corp certainly has the resources to do so. Few have ever been admonished for so boldly setting a boat a-sail for new lands.

That’s why even The Daily‘s apparent lack of a specific target audience, in the same way its existing newspapers cater to particular demographics, isn’t a particular concern. Right now, The Daily is a title for the relatively small base of consumers of a specific device – iPad’s demographic is self-selectingly ABC1. As the market grows to welcome others, however, so The Daily might refine its voice in to a message that isn’t defined by its medium.

So The Daily, to News Corp.. (NSDQ: NWS) is quite simple really – now is the time for experimentation.

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