Why 'The Daily' Failed, article by John Gruber
As often happens, JG has some good and simple observations.
1: Don't suck.
2: Start small.
They set up an operation with $25 million a year in expenses. But there’s no reason why a daily iPad newspaper needs that sort of budget. A daily iPad newspaper of the scope of The Daily might (but I doubt it), but that simply means the scope of The Daily was ill-conceived. News Corporation went no further than taking the newspaper as we know it — the newspaper as defined by the pre-Internet 20th century — and cramming it into an iPad wrapper. You can’t tell me a good daily iPad newspaper couldn’t be run profitably for $5 million a year.
What he said.
What's odd in this world is that many people have success confused with size. If your company is not huge, or at least growing very quickly, then it's not successful, or not worth consideration. That's completely wrongheaded. Many, many of the most successful people and companies in the world, measured both by job-satisfaction and finance, are small and have no desire to grow.
Check out Marco's (programmer of the Instapaper) new super-lean magazine "The Magazine".
I've subscribed. So far the writing is good, though maybe not compelling. We'll see how it goes. But I surely like his angle to it. No unnecessary costs for flash (or Flash). It takes much less to make a profit this way.
As time goes, and people begin to think of e-publishing as The way to publish, and as they start seeing the potential there, and the economy of starting small, then we'll see all kinds of great specialist publications which might never have been possible on paper. On paper you have that big upfront expense, and how are you going to find your audience? Because the Net is non-geographical, a small audience does not need to be in one place to be found. Plus of course the shipping expense and work there used to be with paper publishing.
It is still the Wild Frontier right now, and Everything is Free, because everybody is fighting for mindshare. But things will settle down, and I think over the next decade or two people will begin to be able and willing to pay a little for subscriptions (also easier to take than it used to be), to get what they want instead of sorting through lots of junk. I know I'd be more than willing.