The Daily: Murdoch’s clean slate?

As you probably noticed, the first iPad-only newspaper was launched by News Corp yesterday. After months of phone-tapping scandal, Rupert Murdoch must be glad to move on. And, having had a quick look at the first edition of The Daily, I’m impressed by the scale of its ambition.

The iPad Daily's caorusel

The Daily's chugging carousel

Unlike the print-infatuated apps from The Times et al, The Daily really does feel like it was designed for the iPad. It’s packed (perhaps too packed) with rich media – audio, video, 360-degree photos and even its own built-in news anchor (sadly not a patch on Ron Burgundy).

At times it’s unresponsive – particularly when navigating features on the carousel – and of course all the news is US-focussed (it’s only available on the US iTunes store). But you can see where News Corp spent its $80m – The Daily is an epic publication that, once it relaxes a little, could be winner. It benefits from fairly intuitive navigation, too, unlike most  magazine apps (WIRED is always a challenging read in print, but on iPad it’s like Rubiks puzzle).  Still, I do wish that app makers would stop showing off with the whole ‘now switch to landscape mode to view pictures’ thing. I don’t want to be challenged – I want read great editorial, often with my iPad propped up on the table rather than in my hands.

Nonetheless, I think that News Corp is making a big mistake by making The Daily an iPad-only publication. Android tablets already command 22% of the tablet market, and with Google’s Android Honeycomb operating system now unveiled it’s likely that it will be a bit challenge to Android this year. This is from my opinion piece on Life Of Android yesterday:

Tablets are crying out for a great newspaper app. The Times (£10 a month) and Telegraph (free) iPad apps are passable, but they cling to slavishly to their print heritage, reheating yesterday’s news and adding very little tablet sparkle.

And while the Independent’s i paper iPad app is a cracking read and perfectly paced for tablet consumption, it is let down by its crushingly dull (and crash-prone) PDF presentation. Only the FT app (for Samsung Galaxy Tab and iPad) really shines. It’s full of fresh news and a sprinkled with interactivity – but of course it serves a niche audience and, at £4.49 a week, isn’t cheap.

So I believe there’s a massive opportunity for The Daily, with its interactive charts and made-for-tablet editorial. But there’s a problem, too – The Daily will be an iPad exclusive. And while Apple’s tablet is the only show in town right now, things are bound to change. Even before Android is ready for tablets, it has a 22% market share.

The tablets from HP and Blackberry may only find niche audiences, but with many manufacturers rallying behind Android 3.0 Honeycomb, it’s likely that the iPad will be challenged in the coming years. If the smartphone market is anything to go by, Android tablets may not outshine the iPad, but they will undercut and out-geek it.

You can read the full piece – Tablets need The Daily, but Murdoch shouldn’t ignore Android – over at Life Of Android.