Tuesday, 21 April 2009

Murdoch's still way ahead of the game - WSJ iPhone app

To be fair I don't know if Rupert himself is to be congratulated for the Wall St Journal's iPhone application, but as well as being a great execution of the mobile news genre, it also shows that value of paid content online for the future of a newspaper. As I've mentioned before, it is unrealistic to think that popular news sites are ever going to be able to build a subscription model. That horse has long since bolted. There is a possibility that they can generate revenue through mobile access to news, as mobile is still an area where we are used to incremental payments for better services and functionality (as in the iPhone itself). The problem is that few phones make reading content (particularly content that includes pictures, links, flash video, etc) particularly pleasant. So you would be paying for the convenience of consuming the content anywhere, although it is actually relatively inconvenient to do so.

Much better if you are looking at offering the same content on a mix of free and paid media to have the always-on but difficult to use in depth medium available for free, and charge for the one that people will want to spend more time with. As the WSJ has maintained its subscription model (more because it could, having unique and high quality content rather than having any particular insight into the future of newspapers) it has been able to do that.

Although thinking about it that the same could have been said about print and online versions 8 years ago....


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