Next Monday, The New York Times ends its free web content and puts up a subscription wall. Today, one week sooner, The Daily erects its own pay wall as it too wonders, will anyone start buying its online newspaper. "News Corp. gets its first sense of whether readers will pony up $1 a week for a newspaper rendered in a mobile app, or if The Daily fades into the downloaded-and-forgotten oblivion that afflicts so many in Apple's App Store." Certainly, between the two content creators, the NYT has the bigger lead but it also has the most to risk. The Times has been offering free content for quite some time while The Wall Street Journal was fast to build what has become a successful pay model. The Daily comes from a strict online space with only a couple of months of sampling to urge consumers to fork over dollars for content.
Can the newcomer survive? Can the gray old lady get back into shape and adapt to a rapidly changing marketplace? Or will iPad and smartphone users simply continue to consumer content that is free to read? Is it all, one or no winners in this battle. For consumers that see the value in the product, success should come. The Times has that edge with its consumers and the online platform adds convenience for the customer. The Daily has not earned that credibility yet. Form without substance may not be enough to gain a viable base. Deep pockets however may carry the day. As tablets and smartphones grab a bigger footprint, and consumers begin to accept that they have to pay for quality content, success may come for both. At the same time, they should not stop innovating; as competition in this space will only ramp up, too.