The Internet has shaken up the status quo for many incumbent economic leaders – and newspapers have seen this effect more so than any other industry. Since the Web hit the American household in the 1990s, print media has been experimenting with strategies for digital distribution and revenue streams, with few conclusive results after well over a decade. The Web has moved the audience’s attention from monolithic news outlets controlled by publishers in favor of social links (Facebook and Twitter) and aggregators (The Huffington Post, The Daily Beast and Drudge Report.)
This year’s announcement of the iPad seemed to change the publishing industry’s outlook on doing business over the Web. Instead of the hyperlinked, non-linear, short-attention-span, copy/paste-friendly nature of a desktop Web browser, the iPad offers a publishing platform similar to their paper product – with an iPad app, the publisher has verticalized control of available content, its layout, navigation experience, and – most importantly – revenue generation methods.
On October 15, the Times released “NYTimes for iPad,” (iTunes Link) labeling it “free until early 2011.” In testing it, I’ve decided it’s an excellent application in its own right, and could potentially be a great sign for the future of print journalism, but it could be yet another business fumble if the company doesn’t execute the proper balance between advertising, consumer pricing and usability.