Over the weekend, readers of the New York Post discovered they couldn't read the Gotham tabloid on their iPads without buying the Post's $6.99 per month iPad app. Turns out, the News Corp publication erected a paywall for all visitors accessing its site via the iPad's Safari browser. It's a risky move with implications for both Apple and the Post. Here's where media observers are coming down on the issue.
It's troubling for Apple Dave Winer at Scripting News says if the Post's strategy catches on, it could be a boon for Apple's Android tablet competitors.
Okay this is bad. This is breaking the web. If no one used the iPad it wouldn't matter. But lots of people use it.
I wonder how Apple feels about this? I can't imagine they like it. I can see the ads now. "Get an Android tablet to read the web."
Gizmodo's Jack Loftus at Gizmodo agrees that the move "stinks for mobile Safari users" but reasons that "a rag has to get paid, right?" Meanwhile, the staff at Electronista notes that the Post's paywall isn't necessarily bad for Apple, noting that it "drives users to an iPad app" which Apple gets a cut of.
It's troubling for the Post Responding to Winer, Dan Gilmor of Arizona State University's J-School tweets, "NY Post isn't 'breaking the web' by blocking iPad Safari access; it's self-destructing. Fine with me." Staci Kramer at Paid Content agrees, saying the tabloid's paywall is "one of the most poorly conceived paywall efforts I've come across."
What makes this different from News Corp sibling The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times or other news outlets limiting access to digital content in the hopes of gaining subscription revenue? The NYP literally is blocking the web for a subset of users (usually that’s left to totalitarian regimes), targeting the way someone accesses the web to keep readers out. You can’t even see the front page or the day’s front/back cover images. For iPad users relying on Safari, it is as though the site exists only as a billboard for an app.