Is Apple to Blame for Delay of Murdoch’s iPad “Daily” Launch?

The iPad newspaper had been scheduled to be released on Wednesday but a new iTunes subscription feature is not yet ready.



The release of Rupert Murdoch’s iPad newspaper, “The Daily,” has been pushed back a few weeks, according to All Things Digital’s Peter Kafka. The publication had been set to debut at an event at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art next Wednesday. (Steve Jobs was going to be there!) Though the delay is being called a “joint decision” by Apple and News Corp., it would appear that the hold-up is really on Apple’s end, as it develops a new iTunes subscriptions feature that would “push” the app’s new edition to subscribers each day.

Publishers have been clamoring for a subscriptions feature in iTunes for months. Back in July, for instance, there was a bit of a spat between Time Inc. and Apple, with the former lobbying the latter for control over the sale and management of subscriptions for its iPad apps. Subscriptions are appealing to publishers for a number of reasons: A subscription assures a regular revenue stream, but it also cuts out the middleman (Apple) to a certain extent, giving the publisher access to subscriber data–which is essential when trying to sell ads.

Questions from Time‘s FAQ online about its app read like a series of disappointments. (A phenomenon with which we are familiar.)


Does the app update with a new issue each week?

The app does not update with a new issue each week. You must purchase a new issue within the app for each new issue.

Can I buy a subscription to TIME magazine on the iPad?

Currently we are offering the iPad edition of TIME magazine for sale on an issue-by-issue basis. We plan to add the option to subscribe in the coming months.

Will the magazine content update with the new issue on the app every week?

No. For now, users can purchase and download new issues within the app each week.

News Corp., however, has always had something of a slightly special relationship with Apple–the Wall Street Journal app was one of just a few that, in the past, were allowed to bill customers directly–so it’s unsurprising that Murdoch’s Daily would be one of the first to offer a breakthrough subscription edition.

The real question here, though, is what happens when there is yet another gate for editorial content to cross before reaching readers? Steve Jobs is known to rule his app store with something of an iron fist, and iPad magazine issues, if they contain any new technological bells and whistles, reportedly can be subjected to weeks of languishing in an approval process. Because The Daily is, um, a daily, it presumably won’t have to jump through such hurdles. But what if the Jobs-Murdoch collaboration sours at any point? Does it make sense for a tech CEO to be the final gatekeeper for a news publication?


About the author

David Zax is a contributing writer for Fast Company. His writing has appeared in many publications, including Smithsonian, Slate, Wired, and The Wall Street Journal