The Daily, Hourly, Minutely, Secondly, Real-timey

Put aside for a moment that ‘The Daily’ has a laggy, ugly, non-text-selectable user interface — even throw out the fact that a new “issue” takes over a minute to load — throw all that out and you still have one major problem: stale content.

The title says it all: do you the reader and consumer of news want information that is a day old? Would you prefer an hour old, perhaps a minute old, seconds, what about real-time? If you take an honest poll of news readers that are using iPads 1 and you will find that for most the sweet spot is a few hours old. That is, most iPad news consumers want the news they are reading to be up to date within the last few hours — they rarely want to know the news from yesterday. 2

This is the problem with the Daily: stale news that was no longer relevant the moment I started downloading it, five minutes ago. The only time you can get away with publishing content that is out dated is if that content is opinion and not fact based. That is I care to read about the Super Bowl the day after the Super Bowl if — and only if — you are going to add to the discussion, perhaps telling me why TV crews felt it necessary to show the disgusting scene where Cameron Diaz feeds A-Rod steroids, but I digress.

Opinion pieces (known as Op-Eds in the super fancy newspaper industry) should be relevant weeks after it was published — if it isn’t, then it is a mark of a bad piece. News about the who won the Super Bowl was irrelevant a few hours after it happened for most all iPad readers.

This is where the Daily app is missing the boat. Flipboard is wildly popular because the content us up to date — and I mean up to date — you won’t find stale content on that app. The Daily could have swooped in and pulled news from the many different News Corp entities to create a truly fantastic news aggregation service that is custom designed for the iPad and shockingly up to date. I would pay for that.

Which means the the Daily fails as a news app fails, but does it fail as an opinion app?

Are the Op-Ed articles in the Daily worth the cost of the subscription? I don’t know because I only re-installed the app to make sure I was accurate for the purposes of this “Op-Ed” post and because that question is subjective.

I have read a ton of commentary on the Daily and most all of it focuses on the design and layout and not on the content. Rightfully so — to each his own — we must all decide for ourselves if the content is going to be worth the price. The bigger issue that I see with the app long term is how relevant the content truly is by the time the reader gets around to reading it.

Design and layout issues are easily fixed, but you can’t easily fix stale content. The Daily should have a constant stream of new content, so that when I load up the news section I can see what is happening right now — not late yesterday evening.

Until the Daily fixes that, I truly have no interest in the app. 3

  1. It is important to denote these readers as iPad readers, because iPad readers differ in needs and wants to those that get news from paper newspapers.
  2. Again just iPad readers here.
  3. For the record I deleted the app again.
Originally posted for members on: February 7, 2011
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