The glory days are over. Yes, you heard it here at maciverse.com. Well, maybe not over, but the glory days are definitely no longer free. As of March 28th, according to the New York Times, the New York Times website and iPad App will no longer be free. For casual perusers of “All the News That’s Fit to Print”, the website will continue to be free. Upon looking at your 21st article, you will be redirected to three purchasing options(unless you are a home delivery subscriber, then all is free):
- For $15, you have access to the website for a month and on a mobile phone.
- For $20—and this is where it becomes interesting for our readers—you have access to the website and full use of your New York Times iPad App.
- And for $35, you get both.
This move represents a big gamble for the Times that centers around the question of how committed folks are to their digital news and whether or not they’re willing to shell out for it. It comes as no surprise that they are now charging (as they had announced several months ago), but it still comes as a kind of shock for those of us who are so accustomed to freely examining all of the website’s offerings. Additionally, for those who haver started to rely on their iPad App, it presents a fork in the road. Do they look for news elsewhere on the free-roaming internet, or do they pay the 20 bucks and continue to enjoy the same service that they have for the past three months?
With Alan’s recent article on Richard Branson’s iPad-only project, we catch a glimpse of the iPad’s possibilities as a news- carrying device (and we have also seen Murdoch’s the Daily aim for ubiquity but settle into mediocrity). There’s no question that mobile devices carry the future of journalism on their shoulders—and there’s also no question that news providers could subsist on ad revenues alone without subscriptions. But again, the ultimate question is how smooth the transition will be from individuals indulging in free Apps and websites to individuals having to pay for them.
I’ll go ahead and say that come March 28th, I will gladly pay the $20 to continue accessing the Times’ website and using the App. Both continue to provide the best, up-to-date news available—and the iPad App is the realization of the possibilities of newspaper on the iPad. If you have not used it yet, I recommend downloading it before it’s no longer free. The App provides you with access to all the sections of the paper and allows for a smooth reading experience. With the addition of slideshows and videos, your reading experience is even more dramatically enhanced.
Ultimately, I believe that faithful readers will, with perhaps a sigh of resignation, sign up and agree to pay. Those who have become accustomed to looking at 20 articles in much less than a month on the website and those who have fallen in love with the Times on their iPad should ultimately concede that floating a few bucks to the Times to keep it alive is not the worst thing in the world. Without a doubt, the Times will lose some readers out of frusturation. But in these oh so digital times, the Times has to make do and so do we.