With all of the turmoil about the future of journalism, the New York Times is taking a proactive role in staking out it’s future in what might be a newspaper-less world. Today the company released a downloadable Adobe Air application that brings together the immediacy of the online world with the serendipity and browsing of the physical world. See a video demo of the application in action.
The Times Reader 2.0 is a slick product with an advertising and freemium business model. The tool offers some sections for free, like the front page, while charging $14.95 a month for access to others. John Biggs from Techcrunch is thinking about making the switch to all digital from paper delivery which is costing him $40 a month in Brooklyn. I’m curious as to how many people will put up with a seperate app dedicated to news sitting next to their web browser and e-mail client. And how many will be willing to shell out $15 a month for the same content that is already available for free on their website.
I think this is the first step to the New York Times setting up a pay wall like the Wall Street Journal. Unlike the Wall Street Journal, The New York Times looks to be pushing a monthly fee over a micro-payment business model which will ultimately fail.
The other interesting idea involved the Research and Development group at the newspaper. First off, the fact that a large media company has a R&D group boggles my mind but it totally makes sense to tackle the new technology that will be shaping their business in the coming years head on. Second, the New York Times is very interested in making their content work on the slew of portable media devices that are popping up everywhere like netbooks, the Kindle, and mobile phones. The video below taken by the Nieman Journalism Lab shows how they’re experimenting with e-ink readers and figuring out how their content will work on devices that aren’t even invented yet.
The future of media is not a single medium with one or two supporting business models, but one with many outlets tailored to different devices with just as many different ways to monetize it. The New York Times is building the infrastructure to handle this, it’s the smaller news outlets that are going to have a tough time adopting to this new, fragmented world.