It sucks that The Daily is going away. If you’re rubbing your hands with glee over its closure, then you’re dead inside. Maybe the parent company, an intensely old-world corporation in many ways, deserved to have its butt handed to it. But the experiement was completely worth undertaking and News Corp gets credit for doing it.
In fact, I think it was incredibly brave and ambitious to launch that thing in the first place. As with many crazy and risky ventures, there were a lot of folks that were quick to predict ruin even as it was being announced. Those same folks trotted out those months-old predictions yesterday, nodding and stroking their metaphorical goatees.
But what about those negative predicitons made about similar ideas that went in the opposite direction? A crazy idea for a quick SMS-based messaging system that you can view and use on a computer. Silly, useless, good only for sending poop status? Or a real-time layer for the web, nearly indispensible now? You pick that one in 2006 please, thanks.
The Daily deserves credit for a couple of things. One was embracing the iPad , not as a validation of Apple’s dominance (which it still maintains) but as a vote for the tablet as the future of our news consumption. Whatever operating system or form-factor of tablet we’re going to be using a couple of years from now, it’s clear that these things are super-effective platforms for reading and watching. The Daily was a bet on tablets, and that’s a smart one.
The other thing it deserves credit for is trying very hard to make the old-world newspaper model translate to the tablet world. It deserves credit for it because it definitively proved that this does not work. At all.
Now, the next publication to try a widely-focused news publication on the iPad (or across tablet ecosystems) knows with certainty that it will have to be a leaner, meaner beast. The days of trying to squeeze the bloated carcass of a traditional news organization into the strictures of tablet publishing are grinding to a close. I know that The Daily’s app wasn’t in the best place when it started, but it got pretty good by the end. It wasn’t the technical prowess of the organization that killed it, it was the staffing, marketing and mentality.
I don’t buy that there was no compelling content either. I’ve saved The Daily articles for reading later, the magazine had scoops. Remember the Microsoft Office on iPad/denied by Microsoft thing? That was The Daily.
Unfortunately, that stuff was drowned out in the inane filler that the publication felt it had to caulk every crevice with. Instead of The Daily being stripped down and presented with sparse, in your face content of the highest quality, it felt very much like the newspaper, with 2-3 articles worth your attention and a lot of white noise.
But all of that is still something to be thankful for. The Daily did it. It tried very hard to make a ‘digital newspaper’ for tablets. This does not work, and now we know it. Time for something new.