Even the world's largest and most resourceful media companies are still struggling to adapt to a shifting landscape where digital content is king and the rise of tablets and other mobile devices is changing the reading habits of consumers.
Worldwide media behemoth News Corp., owned by Rupert Murdoch, announced it would be closing The Daily, a digital newspaper designed for Apple's iPad tablet, on Dec. 15, after failing to garner enough subscribers to make the publication viable. The experiment, which was priced at 99 cents per week and $39.99 per year, closes 21 months after its debut. Technology and other assets from The Daily, including some staff, will be folded into The New York Post.
"From its launch, The Daily was a bold experiment in digital publishing and an amazing vehicle for innovation," Murdoch said. "Unfortunately, our experience was that we could not find a large enough audience quickly enough to convince us the business model was sustainable in the long term."
In a Nov. 9, 2010, interview with The Australian Financial Review, Murdoch suggested that The Daily would need a circulation of around 800,000 readers to become economically viable—a number he believed achievable in the context of the iPad's sell-through rate. Despite the huge popularity of the iPad and the tablet market in general, the experiment failed.
"Therefore, we will take the very best of what we have learned at The Daily and apply it to all our properties. … I know The New York Post will continue to grow and become stronger on the Web, on mobile, and not least, the paper itself," Murdoch concluded. "I want to thank all of the journalists, digital and business professionals for the hard work they put into The Daily."
Despite the digital shuttering of The Daily, research suggests consumers are using mobile devices to access news content. Smartphone and tablet owners are increasingly using their mobile devices—be it an Android handset, an iPad or BlackBerry device—to access various news sources, according to an October survey of 9,513 adults sponsored by the Pew Research Center's Project for Excellence in Journalism.
The survey, conducted by Knowledge Networks, included 2,013 tablet users and 3,945 smartphone users, showed that 64 percent of tablet owners and 62 percent of smartphone owners said they use the devices for news at least weekly, according to survey results.
Nearly three-quarters (73 percent) of adults who consume news on their tablet read in-depth articles at least sometimes, including 19 percent who do so daily, while 61 percent of smartphone news consumers at least sometimes read longer stories, 11 percent regularly.