Welcome to the future of newspapers -- or at least media mogul Rupert Murdoch's vision of it.
Starting at noon today, subscribers to Murdoch's The Daily will get HD-quality video, 360-degree photographs, text stories interlaced with Twitter feeds and 100 pages of current events, gossip, sports, apps and games delivered daily to Apple's iPad for 99 cents a week, or $39.99 a year.
Calling for a "digital renaissance," the News Corporation chairman and CEO joined with Apple at a New York press conference today to unveil the new venture, billed as the first "newspaper" designed specifically for the iPad.
"New times demand new journalism," Murdoch said. "So we built The Daily completely from scratch, on the most innovative device to come about in my time -- the iPad."
"The magic of great newspapers -- and great blogs -- lies in their serendipity and surprise, and the touch of a good editor," he continued. "We're going to bring that magic to The Daily -- to inform people, to make them think, to help them engage in the great issues of the day. And as we continue to improve and evolve, we are going to use the best in new technology to push the boundaries of reporting."
Although other newspapers have already created applications for iPad users, The Daily is the first to cater fully to the new tablet platform. The digital newspaper will also have a Web presence, but the the paywall-protected site will only be available to subscribers and will not include all of the content delivered to the iPad.
Murdoch said Apple CEO Steve Jobs, currently on medical leave from the company, called Murdoch last last week to tell him he thought The Daily is "terrific."
In a statement, Jobs said, "News Corp. is redefining the news experience with The Daily."
The billing plan that will support The Daily will let users automate billing through the application instead of Apple's iTunes store. Apple's vice president of Internet Services Eddy Cue, joined Murdoch on stage, said iPad users have already downloaded more than 200 million news-related applications.
The Daily to Target 15M Americans Expected to Own Tablets This Year
The Daily's top brass, publisher Greg Clayman and editor-in-chief Jesse Angelo, also took the stage to shed some light on the style and voice of the new publication.
With their sights set on the 15 million Americans expected to own tablets this year, Angelo said The Daily will target a wide demographic of readers with breaking news and features, written with "a little bit of wit, a little bit verve, some attitude, some punch."
"I believe if you want people to come back to your product, you have to make them think and you have to make them smile," he said, adding that The Daily will introduce new content every morning and will also update and break news throughout the day.
Like ordinary newspapers, The Daily will include text stories on the day's news, but also audio voiceovers that read the stories aloud, animated graphics and a daily video introduction featuring a broadcast news-like anchor.
Instead of using an traditional news site homepage, The Daily features stories using a scroll-able "carousel" of tiles, each showcasing the front page of a story with colorful headlines and splashy photographs. It also includes a Table of Contents that makes the app feel more like a magazine than a newspaper.
Though The Daily's content lives behind a paywall online, others can access stories shared with them by subscribers through Facebook, Twitter and also e-mail.
The new iPad paper also features weather reports, astrology, a customizable and interactive sports page and Sudoku and crossword puzzles.
"I think this is potentially the future of newspaper publishing," said Lance Ulanoff, editor-in-chief of PCMag.com. "People still love newspapers, and they love it because it's prepackaged content."
How Quickly Will People Adopt to the New Paper?
Despite the abundance of online news, Ulanoff said, people are still subscribing to newspapers because they can still get easy, low-cost news delivered straight to them.
"It's curated topics and it's specifically created content for that product, and people like that. That's why they're still subscribing to newspapers right now."
Thanks to Verizon, The Daily will be free to iPad users for two weeks, but after that it will have to sink or swim on its own.
The cost is low enough to not deter potential subscribers, Ulanoff said.
"I don't know whether or not it'll be successful, though," he said. "It's how quickly people adopt it and how good the content is."
The Daily may be the first iPad newspaper, but it still has to compete with all of the newspapers, magazines, blogs and books that users can already access on the new device.
And Ulanoff pointed out that though it may be full of new media bells and whistles, it's still missing one newspaper staple: the comics.
"Where are my comics?" he quipped. "It's a daily newspaper. Give me my Dagwood. Give my my Blondie. Give my Peanuts."