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Study of iPad users identifies obstacles for The Daily

I like The Daily — the first iPad only, digital magazine — well enough, but to attract a large number of users and generate substantial subscription revenue, The Daily — released by News Corp. in February — will need to overcome a few obstacles with iPad owners who consume news online.

These obstacles include the perception among those with the greatest interest in news that The Daily’s content is lacking, that superior content is available elsewhere online for free and the expectation that apps are purchased through one-time transactions, as opposed to the recurring subscription model The Daily employs. Identifying these obstacles comprises the major finding of research on The Daily released by knowDigital, which funded and independently completed the study. A report detailing this and other key findings is now available for free download from the company’s website (

“Our research finds that iPad users feel positively about what News Corporation has set out to accomplish with The Daily,” says knowDigital President Sam Milkman, who authored the report. “However, for News Corporation to convert those positive impressions into regular use and paid subscriptions from iPad users, it is going to have to address a number of concerns raised in our study.”

KnowDigital completed the study, “Real iPad Users’ Early Reaction to The Daily,” with 25- to 54-year-old iPad owners who consumed electronic news multiple times each week. These consumers participated in one-on-one, 30-minute interviews with knowDigital personnel following two weeks of regular usage of The Daily.

The study revealed how consumers generally fell into two camps — one consisting of tech-savvy, heavy news users and one consisting of those who are less tech-savvy and have lower interest in gathering news content. It is with this second group that The Daily performed better, as the heavy news users in the first group — while appreciating the technical features of The Daily — dismissed much of the app’s content, expressing the nearly universal perception that more compelling and in-depth news content is available elsewhere online for no charge.

iPad users in both camps were generally unwilling to commit to purchasing subscriptions to The Daily for a number of reasons, including some based on their specific perceptions of The Daily and some based on the idea of paying for an app on a recurring charge basis.

Despite this, I think that one of the main attractions for the iPad is its potential as a home for magazine and newspaper subscriptions. I read USA Today on it daily. And I’d love to be able to subscribe to, say, the UK MacUser and have it simply pop up in a virtual iMagazine/iNewspaper stand on my Apple tablet.

Personally, I’m much more likely to buy digital versions of mags and newspapers than ebooks. Why? I like to hand off a good book I’ve read to my wife, one of my kiddos or a friend. And that’s still way easier with a physical book than a digital one.

— Dennis Sellers

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