The Guardian has taken great strides over the past few years to embrace new technologies – most recently moving to a “digital first” initiative where the printed edition has become secondary to the always updated Guardian website for breaking news stories. And today, to coincide with the launch of Apple iOS5, they have launched their dedicated iPad Edition [iTunes] to cater to the 15 million people worldwide currently with the device.
But this is not just prettier packaging for their website content, nor simply a PDF-esque copy of their printed edition. It is a hybrid where they are making use of the digital technologies of audio, and video embedding alongside the printed word and high resolution images – but are keeping to a single published issue per day. It will be published early in the morning, and through the iOS 5 Newsstand will be synced directly with your iPad whilst your asleep. So in the morning as you’re rushing out the door – it is just there waiting for you – just like it used to be when the newspaper delivery boy used to have it in the letterbox at 6am.
Subscriptions on the iPad have been a good source of revenue for newspapers struggling to turn a profit in the digital arena as people treat the editions more as newspapers (so read a selection of articles or even cover to cover), rather than newspaper websites which people tend to just read the odd article as and when – for which most feel a subscription would not be value for money and micropayments are still yet to take off.
I like the idea of a single edition to read each morning, with The Guardian’s editorial team selecting the most interesting and useful articles to read from the past 24 hours – rather than having to hunt around for stories once they drop off the frontpage of the website. However, the news does not remain unchanged throughout the working day – it could be a useful feature to actually have 3 editions released during the day – once for each period that people would normally pick up and read a newspaper – during the morning commute, during lunch, and for the journey home. At launch, this Guardian app will be perfect for the morning commute – but will be outdated by the time of the journey home when compared to the later printed edition of newspapers such as The Evening Standard. An optional two or three editions per day would get around this problem.
The app will launch at £9.99/month which is notably more expensive than News International’s iPad-only The Daily at £0.69/day or £27.99/year (which is losing money with too few subscribers), but matches the prices of the iPad apps from The Times and The Telegraph.