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Lesson for media companies from the death of ‘The Daily’: Beware geeks bearing gifts

The Daily, Rupert Murdoch’s bid to create an iPad-only version of a daily newspaper, may be the first publication to generate more post-mortems than readership. GigaOM’s Matthew Ingram links to a few of the notable ones in his own after-action report here. I’d add Alexis Madrigal’s take at The Atlantic as also worth a read.

And I’ll throw in one additional thought of my own: The Daily was, in many ways, a perfect expression of Steve Jobs’ ability to seduce media companies into doing his bidding.

I gave an interview to NPR back in 2010, when the iPad launched, in which I referred to it as the “anti-Internet” device. By that I meant the iPad seemed calculated specifically to appeal to media company executives exasperated by the chaotic — and uncompensated — sharing, aggregating, mashing up and linking of content that was happening on the internet, and predicted they would leap at the chance to create content for what was essentially a one-way digital device.

As I said in the NPR interview, “I think the media companies will leap at [the iPad]. It offers them the opportunity to essentially re-create the old business model, wherein they are pushing content to you on their terms rather than you going out and finding content, or a search engine discovering content for you.”

That relationship was always bound to be an unequal one, however. It basically allowed Apple to charge publishers for access to its audience of iPad owners while returning no more value to publishers than they could have been realized elsewhere without sharing revenue with Apple. As he had done to the record labels in 2003 with the launch of the iTunes Music Store, Jobs adroitly played on publishers’ frustrations with the open internet to seduce them into Apple’s closed ecosystem in a way that benefited Apple more than the publishers.

Rupert Murdoch just found that out the hard way.