The New York Post hasn’t made any real money in years. That’s why it’s an unlikely frontrunner in the publishing industry’s uneasy turf war with Apple and the IPad. And even though it comes from a company that is spending tens of millions to invent a new news product for the IPad (News Corp’s “The Daily”), the Post has fired the loudest and most effective shots for the newspaper industry directly at Apple’s broadside.
According to the Media Industry Newsletter, The NY Post is the top grossing publisher’s paid App in the App store, and number 11 overall.
At issue is Apple’s insistence that any newspapers or magazines that sell single copies or subscriptions give 30% of their take to Apple for use of its system to deliver the Post content and collect the charges. Also at issue is Apple’s attempt to keep all or most of the customer data to itself.
Last year, the Post built a very effective IPad app that truly captures the look and feel of the paper but also takes advantage of the navigation and interactivity of the IPad. It downloads relatively quickly, giving the reader the ability to download and read while not connected to the web. It captures the fun and impact of Post headlines and layouts, and makes it easy to navigate to specific sections, pages or stories, giving readers multiple routes in a very intuitive platform.
It also engages you by giving you the opportunity to write your own Front Page headline and see what it would look like on a few variations of the front page. Your attempt goes up against everyone else in a competition each day to see who did the best job. And it allows you to share Post content easily to social media or others. For me, a life-long reader, it has replaced the print edition.
After a brief free trial period a year or so ago, they started to charge me to subscribe to the App. No public hand wringing for two years, no huge press events. They just put it up and charged for it.
Then it really got interesting.
First the Post began to block IPad users from accessing NYPost.com’s resident browser, Safari. So suddenly IPad users didn’t have the option to call up NYPost.com on their IPads. Now, to get any NYPost content on the IPad, they had to pay for it. (Here I have to disclose that since I had downloaded the Firefox IPad browser, too, I discovered that I could still get to NYPost.com on my IPad via that browser).
Then, the Post introduced a new feature IN the app that allows App subscribers to access the live NYPost.com website in a pop-up box on the App.
In the process of trying to force subscribers to pay for the Post on the IPad, and to maximize the transaction by pulling all live web content under the pay umbrella, the Post may be stumbling onto the most effective combination of content for the IPad. They offer both an IPad-optimized look and feel…with the easy navigation and the stunning photos the IPad features…. AND the constantly updating elements of the 24/7 website which are now available whenever the IPad is online. It’s a powerful offering together.
Mainstream media companies are still in the early innings of the game when it comes to new business models. But the Post is aggressively pushing in the right direction. They are gradually matching their journalism to the new medium. If they continue to build their interactive storytelling skill and develop video content and presentation, they could eventually have the first killer news app.