New York Post updates iPad edition, goes replica, angering readers used to original app
Readers of the Murdoch tabloid, used to digital edition originally launched in October 2010, rebel as iPad app goes to a PDF replica of the print edition
The New York Post appears to be going way out of its way to anger people – if it is not its sensational cover photo of the execution of journalist James Foley, it is the updating of its iPad edition that transformed the digital edition from a native app to a replica edition.
Is the NY Post any worse than the now shuttered News of the World or the popular The Sun? Probably. At least The Sun has a circulation of over 2 million. The Post, on other hand, has a print circulation of 261,312 M-F according to its latest publisher’s statement, down from 522,875 three years ago.
What the Post does have, however, is huge digital readership. While the audit only shows around 1,200 digital replica readers, it has over 200K non replica.
The NY Post’s iPad app has a long history, as these things go, having been launched in October of 2010. My first post on the app was written while holding my nose as I had to make my way through UFO stories and gay bashing features. I described that first app as a “modified replica edition.”
The latest update brings the app up to version 3.0.0, signifying that this is a major update. And how. The app description says the update is a “full overhaul of the reading experience” – and readers are not happy about it.
The new iPad edition is simply a PDF replica, and as tabloids reproduce better on iPads as a replica than do broadsheets, you might think readers would not mind. Nope. Of the 207 ratings given so far, 178 of them are 1-star. That is pretty amazing considering that the audience for the Post is pretty right-wing and usually tolerant of anything Rupert Murdoch does. Not in this case.
“OMG!!! I thought I had seen some really bad updates but this IS THE WORST!!!!!!” writes the first reviewer.
“Horrible “update”,” writes another. “Used to be easy and enjoyable to read the Post. Thought the old one was a great app just a bit buggy once in awhile. Now it’s so hard to read! The type is too small and you have to zoom in and out and move all over the please just to read the paper. Looks like they scanned the paper and you are downloading a PDF to read which I hate!”
But the overwhelmingly negative reviews do point to something important: while many readers say they want their digital editions to replicate print, what they really want is full content, and once they get used to reading a digital edition specifically designed for reading on their device it is hard to go back to a replica edition of a something designed for print, not digital, reading.
The Post iPad edition has a subscription policy that forces readers to pay $9.99 a month as a minimum purchase. The app does not allow for single issue purchases, so someone used to grabbing a paper before commuting on the subway will not turn to the app edition of The Post as a digital alternative. Whether this is a good policy is hard to say – though since the cover price of a single edition of the Post is $1, and the minimum price one can charge inside iTunes is $0.99, wouldn’t it make sense to offer single copies?
The Post, like the rest of Murdoch’s print products, was spun off from the broadcast and film side of the business. But unlike The Tribune Company or other media companies doing spin-offs, Murdoch did not dump a ton of debt onto the new publishing company – in fact, he gave the new version of News Corp a cash infusion. Murdoch may have distain for journalistic standards, common decency, and the idea that a well-informed public strengthens democracy, but at least he likes newspapers – or at least his idea of a newspaper.