The Daily closes down

I feel badly that The Daily didn’t succeed. The digital publishing industry’s tender age contributed to its eventual failure, but several factors contributed, including a bad first impression. Remember Gruber’s description of “The Daily Wait”?

“From the time I tapped the icon on my home screen until I could read a single page, today’s issue took one minute and twenty seconds. And to be clear, that was over a reasonably fast Wi-Fi connection. One minute, twenty seconds. For over a minute of that time, this is all that I saw. At that point, it’s already a lost cause.”

John wrote that in February 2011, and the app’s developers acknowledged and worked to fix the issue, but by then a large number of potential subscribers had been turned off.

The Daily was a brave, forward-looking experiment. I hope any lessons learned spawn something even better.

 

Microsoft Office on the iPad (Update)

If Microsoft does indeed release Office for the iPad (Google translation), The Daily will flip its lid.

Last February, The Daily claimed that it had seen an early build of Microsoft Office for the iPad:

“A brief hands-on with a working prototype of the software revealed a number of new things. The app’s user interface is similar to the current OneNote app, but it has hints of Metro, the new design language that can be seen in Windows Phone and in the as-yet-released Windows 8 desktop operating system.

Word, Excel and PowerPoint files can be created and edited locally and online.”

The digital publication first hinted at the software’s existence in November, 2011.

Microsoft immediately denied the software’s existence:

“A Microsoft spokeswoman issued this statement: ‘The Daily story is based on inaccurate rumors and speculation. We have no further comment.’ She added that a screen image included with The Daily’s article showing an Office product for iPad was ‘not Microsoft’s software,’ she said.”

Shortly after that, The Daily claimed that it was actually given a demo by a Microsoft employee.

If Microsoft’s Office suite is released for the iPad next year, expect a mighty “I told you so” from The Daily. Provided that The Daily still exists, in May, 2013 that is.

Update: Microsoft’s head of corporate communications Frank Shaw has flatly denied today’s rumor, saying, “The information shared by our Czech Republic subsidiary is not accurate. We have nothing further to share.”

Magazines are having the best week ever

To everyone who’s waiting to sign the magazine industry’s digital death certificate: not so fast. This week, an issue of Time magazine featured an image of a 26-year-old mother breast-feeding her almost 4-year-old son and the question, “Are you mom enough?” Meanwhile, Newsweek published a portrait of President Obama on its cover, complete with rainbow halo and the caption, “The First Gay President.” As NPR points out, both magazines have generated a huge amount of discussion, likely amongst people who haven’t bought a magazine in a while.

Poynter calls the Newsweek cover “a flag in the ground for print journalism.”

“[Today], an article in a newsweekly has as much chance of becoming the focus of cultural conversation as a photo of a falling bear or a review of an Olive Garden in a North Dakota newspaper, but an arresting cover is an assertion that while print magazines’ power may have receded, they’re far from toothless.”

Print publishers have long known that provocative images on their covers get people talking. I suspect that an all-digital publication — The Daily, for example — would generate less buzz with a controversial cover image.

“Waiting is death”

John Gruber nailed it when writing about The Daily today:

“I’m sure that’s how [The Daily’s developers] justify this deplorable launch time. If readers are going to spend 20, 30, maybe even 40 minutes reading The Daily each day, a one-minute launch time isn’t significant. But they’re wrong. It is significant, because the first minute is the most important minute. That’s the minute where the reader makes their impression of The Daily. Waiting is death.”

It’s not like things improve after the app finally loads, either. As I wrote at TUAW, the UI is entirely too slow. Once you’re reading an article, the swipe speed is acceptable. But most people won’t get that far.

As it stands right now, I won’t keep The Daily after the 14th. That’s unfortunate, because I know that a great many people have put a tremendous amount of effort into this app (and continue to do so). However, it needs more work.