Fairfax News Apps For iPhone Charging $2.49 A Month

Charging for news content hasn't been a popular concept with most internet users, but that hasn't stopped publishers from seeking new ways to do it. Fairfax's latest approach is a series of iPhone apps for its main mastheads that will charge $2.49 a month for access.

I've been testing an advance version of the Sydney Morning Herald app on my iPod Touch (there's also apps for The Age, Brisbane Times and WA Today) for the past few days. To be honest, it's been pretty underwhelming. The app is slow to refresh news stories, often freezes up entirely when scrolling between sections, didn't always load graphics for stories, and frequently failed to detect an active Wi-Fi connection. Some of that might be due to using an older Touch model and the pre-release nature of the app I was trialling, but it hardly filled me with enthusiasm.

More tellingly, I can't see that the ability to customise sections and tweet the occasional story justifies paying even $2.49 a month when I can get exactly the same content via the browser on my device for nothing, and in essentially the same format. Of course, this move might be the first step towards Fairfax adding charging to its sites as well to help counter declining newspaper sales, but even then I'd argue that doing so via Safari made more sense than via this particular app.

What features would make you willing to pay for an iPhone news app? Tell us in the comments.

Fairfax [iTunes link]

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Comments

    i was always under the impression that newspapers don't make money from the reader base, they used the reader base to leverage for space payment either advertising, jobs, classifieds, etc...

    i assume they are really more feeling the pinch from seek and ebay and seeing declining advertising revenue, but with some facebook integration they could advertise with very targeted adds and create a new revenue stream rather than trying to charge the user which in reality is unlikely to have a good outcome for them.

    The SMH iPad app is woeful too.
    The table of contents is always wrong - it starts the sports section on its last page and fails to recognise that section starts on the back page and goes backwards.
    Stories get cut in the middle, junk often appears at the start of a story.
    Just not very impressive at all.

    And yet still most of the content is crap. ABC news is still free. So is SBS and so many more on the internet.

    Its a dead business model.

    This is the app that they hired some 1st timers for and paid them peanuts. These guys will learn and leave. So fairfax needs to recover their money somehow. Give them a break and pay for their miseries.

    :)

    Even if the app worked perfectly it wouldn't be worth it. Newspapers as we have known them are doomed and nothing, no magic iPads, no web paywalls, can save them.

    Fairfax's legendary "rivers of gold" weren't sourced from the paper's subscribers or newstand sales, they flowed from the classified ads (and big display ads that cost thousands) the paper ran. And classified ads are deader than the Dodo - Google, Craigslist, eBay and the rest have killed that goose but good. They can never make up for that lost revenue stream by charging for content, even if all the free news sites disappeared overnight they'd never be able to charge enough to make up the shortfall from lost ad revenue (even $5 a day per reader wouldn't be enough), the old newspaper model just won't fly anymore.

    The biggest advantage to the internet for news is that you're no longer limited to just your local papers/radio/TV, with the web you can get the news from multiple sites all over the world, for the price of an internet connection. The idea that people will give that up and go back to paying for access to just one or two local papers/news sites is just crazy.

    Geez it's not that bad. Compared to whats offered out there at the moment its a pretty decent implementation.
    I'm using it on a 4 so i haven't had any lag issues or anything, a few bugs here and there but nothing major. But will people keep paying for it..... thats the $200 Billion question.....
    Huffington Post is still my favorite news app and its free.

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