The Sun Sets on The Daily

Rupert Murdoch's ambitious iPad publication, The Daily is shutting down. Marco Arment, creator of Instapaper and The Magazine, explains what went wrong:

Well-established news sites are much better for news. Editorials and feature articles need to either be free, like most blogs, or consistently great and worth paying for, as in magazines such as The New Yorker or The Atlantic. But The Daily offered an overreaching mix of ineffective news coverage and unmemorable editorials and features. I’ve never seen anyone share a link to something in The Daily saying that we had to go read this great article that would make us want to subscribe. (In fact, I’ve simply never seen anyone post a link to anything in The Daily.)

The Daily required an extremely large staff to produce. And even with supposedly over 100,000 subscribers, netting them at least about $3 million per year plus ad revenue, that’s simply not enough to pay for a staff that large. (Not even close.)

Business 101. The Daily was a mediocre product that cost a fortune to keep afloat. The app was slow and the content was on the same level as a supermarket tabloid.

Marco's effort, The Magazine, is a much humbler affair: Less than ten articles a month by a handful of authors. But the content is interesting, exclusive, and the app is superb. More importantly, unlike The Daily, The Magazine is profitable.

Instead of pouring untold millions into a questionable venture, The Magazine is starting small and growing organically with every issue:

As The Magazine’s subscriber base has increased beyond the threshold of profitability, I’ve been reinvesting in it: I’ve raised the writer payment rate, hired an editor, and added more articles. This week’s issue will include the first illustration. Soon, I want to be able to fund more in-depth articles and even investigative pieces.

I can't wait for the next issue.