The initial reaction to the high-profile launch of The Daily, News Corp.'s long-awaited newspaper app for the iPad, focused on technical glitches and the lack of rapidly updated content. A conventional news magazine pushed to a tablet, at best.
So now that The Daily has had some time to settle since its February launch, including the release of an updated version, what's the broader response? How are real people, not the noisy blogosphere, reacting to it?
A new study from brand research firm knowDigital suggests a split decision among iPad owners: tech-savvy news junkies had little use for The Daily, while less avid news and tech consumers viewed the digital newspaper more favorably. But, unfortunately for News Corp. neither camp showed much interest in actually subscribing (subscriptions are 99 cents a week or $40 a year.)
It's not a good sign that the heavy news users and gadget fans News Corp. would presumably count on to buy the pub don't even like it. Not only weren't they impressed with the embedded videos and 360-degree photos touted at launch, but they found the overall content lacking in depth or uniqueness. In other words, why pay for material you can find elsewhere online for free?
Light news consumers were more taken with The Daily's flashy design and multimedia packaging and found the news coverage comprehensive. "Of course, this view comes from the vantage of a light news consumer, who is satisfied with national and world headlines largely expressed through photo treatments and who quickly moves to stories about gossip and fashion and to the games section," noted the report, whose findings were based on a two-week Daily trial by iPad users.
Early technical issues reported about the app appeared to have little negative impact on perception of The Daily. What features would users like to see? The heavy news crowd wants more financial news and local content, while "a number of women" are looking for a coupon section.
In the App Store, The Daily has earned an overall rating of two and a half out of five stars, based on nearly 8,000 responses. The updated version of the app is faring better, with three and half stars based on more than 800 ratings. News Corp. has been tight-lipped about the number of Daily subscriptions so far, though publisher Greg Clayman told paidContent this month it's more than the 5,000 reported.
With a $30 million investment in the project and a $500,000 weekly run-rate, News Corp. will need to sell a lot more of the paper than that just to break even. The knowDigital report doesn't provide much good news in that respect.