Many companies have produced apps to promote their products and services, but the New York Times has taken the next step and tacked on a subscription fee. Their digital subscriber pass costs $10 a month for access to a wide variety of different interest sections, such as the world news and sports divisions of the digital paper.
Is the $10 subscription fee really worth it for the content? Originally, users and Apple itself complained that the paper left out content that could easily be found on the website, but NYT updated their application to include more of this content in the app’s easily-readable, newspaper-styled layout.
The Look and Feel
The digital subscriber fee allows iPad users to sign in with their New York Times community username to access all of the sections of the electronic newspaper. The subscription fee isn’t really worth it for people who don’t plan on sitting down to read the paper every day, as the top stories can be browsed from the free version. The digital subscriber edition includes more in-depth analysis, images, charts, and articles in general for the in-depth news reader.
In terms of navigation, the actual app is excellently-coded. The pages are seamless and load times are near-instant on most iPad devices. The images are substantially clearer than on Amazon’s Kindle, and the full-color pages are truly a sight to behold. The application has a number of features for accessibility and convenience. Text can easily be zoomed in on for readers who find it too small, and the app itself remembers the user’s news preferences, showing each section’s top news customized for each individual user.
The slider feature at the bottom of the page, introduced in the last major patch of the application, allows users to quickly scroll through top stories for each section, or top headlines for all sections. The stories are organized incredibly well and they are easy to access with just a few taps and swipes of the fingers on the screen.
The NYT iPad app is a joy to use and has a number of excellent features, but one glaring problem still remains – the fact that anyone can access the NYT website on the iPad for free.
Now that the NYT has implemented a paywall on its content, web surfers on the iPad are limited to reading 20 articles a month for free directly from the site, and another 25 through searches. However, the paywall can be circumvented easily by a number of simple methods, most of which can be done by anyone capable of using a browser, which allows any user to view the entirety of the NYT for free indefinitely.
Ultimately, the question is not whether the NYT iPad app is worth the subscription fee, but whether it’s worth paying for at all considering that the exact same content can be read for free. Loyal and frequent users may pay for the convenience, but most web surfers will choose to circumvent the paywall or go elsewhere for their news. It’s too early to tell whether the app will be a success or not, but the recent revelation of Popular Science’s low iPad subscription numbers do not bode well.