And Substance

Lest we forget, the Daily isn't just about news - those 100 dedicated staffers are hard at work producing features, op-eds and even games for the publication, too. The good news is that there seems to be something for everyone here; be it the latest celebrity gossip (urgh), a 360-degree tour of a stadium (yawn) or an expose on the illegal milk-smuggling industry (very intriguing) ; all produced to a standard even the most discerning reader should find tolerable - Fox News the Daily is not.

The product seems decent, then, but what of the business model which is inarguably ambitious. Initially the primary source of revenue will be subscriptions, available at as $0.99 per week or $40 a year. Assuming the scenario of every subscriber opting for the cheaper yearly option, the Daily needs to attract some 520,000 of them in order to meet it operating costs. A daunting task when competitors, such as Wired, can barely scrape past 25 000 purchases - though The Daily's rivals are admittedly much more expensive, a major barrier to entry.

At the launch of the Daily, News Corp was keen to point out that its target audience is effectively all 15 million Americans expected to be iPad owners over the next year - and that's before taking in to account those like ourselves who have circumvented the current US-only restriction. By that measure, to reach its break-even point the Daily only needs to convince 3.5 per cent of all US iPad owners to subscribe to meet its costs. Stated thusly, it doesn't sound entirely impossible but it's definitely going to be an uphill battle.

And that's ignoring the secondary source of income the Daily will provide News Corp with - advertising revenue. Because as well as offering a new way of displaying editorial, the iPad also allows for 'rich media' adverts that far surpass the quality of their print equivalents. News Corp believes that the high quality of The Daily's editorial will attract similarly high quality advertisers, appealing to a more discerning audience. And although this is primarily a benefit to News Corp ('better' adverts mean higher rates) it's also likely to mean a better user experience.

Whether the Daily's subscribers will find the idea of adverts on a paid-for publication too much to swallow remains to be seen. That model may work in traditional print media, but News Corp will be the first to make it work on the iPad if successful. For now though, we are happy to give News Corp credit where due: the Daily genuinely feels like a step forward for its makers, and a good sign of things to come.

We'll be making the most of the free post-launch trial period to decide if News Corp will make subscribers of us, but whether we shell out to continue reading it or not, we'll certainly be keeping a weather eye on the Daily.

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