I received yet another email from the Sydney Morning Herald letting me know that they had now moved from a traditional news print way of selling the news (the news had always been paid by advertisers with the cost of the physical papers being a re-imbursement of the distribution cost) to digital subscriptions. Did I want one?
The Herald was pushing a package where for AU $15 a month I could read the Herald by accessing it through the website. That is $180 per year. OK, that may not seem so bad except that in real terms, the paper version did not cost me anything and came from a newspaper that had many more reporters and journalists than it now does (the Herald dumped so many journalists and reporters into the job market last year to cut costs). So now, in real terms, I am expected to pay more for less!
It gets more interesting however.
For only an extra AU $10 a month (and therefore the princely sum of AU $300 per year) I can get the same Herald but with access from my tablet (iPad in my case, Android tablet in the case of others). So now the Herald expects me to pay AU $120 a year for an iPad app!
Now they are definitely dreaming!
The biggest problem with Fairfax (the owners of the Herald) and indeed News Corporation (Rupert Murdoch’s non-government surveillance organisation) is that they do not really understand the digital world. They have not got the necessary digital vision to see what is going to work for the digital future. For example, in the past, newspapers charged advertisers based on their audited circulations. They argued that this was an indication of the number of people reading the ads, which of course it was not. In a digital world, advertisers can see when the advertisement has piqued the interest of a reader by the reader clicking through so they will no longer pay for a blanket “oh, your ad will be seen by 500,000 people because that is our audited circulation”.
What is the secret to digital newspapers? Simply speaking, either charge $300 per year (and lose I would guess around 90% of your readership and therefore relevance) or adopt a better model – but really, $120 per year for an iPad app – is that the most expensive iPad app ever?
I had the chance to use an iPhone for a couple of days recently, something I looked forward to with a certain degree of relish. I parked my Nokia E71, took the SIM card out and put it in the iPhone. I will admit, it was a 3G 8 gig iPhone so not the latest phone but most of the features I was using have not really changed a great deal between then and now.
I gave it a good workout – having downloaded some music to it so I could use it as an iPod and a phone.
What didn’t I like then?
I didn’t like the short battery life – especially whilst listening to music. A couple of phone calls, a few text messages and a little bit of boogie and it was time to charge the battery again.
I was frustrated as well when I transferred my contacts from Outlook. Using the iTunes software, I synched my contacts from my laptop to the iPhone. Unfortunately, as I had a backup of my contacts (an Archive under Contacts) in Outlook, I ended up with two of every contact as iTunes synched all the contact address-books in Outlook rather than asking which one you wanted to synch.
Whilst the screen was easier to read than the E71 (it is over twice the size after all), and the input was fairly intuitive, it was impossible for me to hold the iPhone and answer an SMS one-handed, something that I can do fairly easily with the E71 and let’s face it, when you are driving and answering SMS messages, you should at least have one hand on the steering wheel ((OK, so I don’t drive and text but you get the message – so many times walking around the city I have one hand free whilst the other is carrying something and being able to write SMS messages one handed is an advantage)).
It was heavy. Considerably heavier than my E71.
To be fair, I know I will try it again next weekend and make sure I give it a good workout but on the basis of the last test, when my phone is up for renewal later this year it is looking like the Nokia N9000 (or is that N900?) if that is available then, or perhaps a Blackberry, or even a Nokia N97 or Samsung Omnia. I must admit to having a soft spot for Samsung as my mum is still using the Samsung I bought 4 years ago in Saudi Arabia and it still goes 4 days between battery charging and has the clearest display I have ever seen.