Over at his blog, Khoi Vinh perfectly captures the problem with The Daily:
It’s true that The Daily qualifies as a form of experimentation, yes, but it doesn’t strike me as a very imaginative or a particularly adventurous form of experimentation. In fact, it’s about as uninspired an experiment as a publisher could undertake. To me, The Daily is a near perfect realization of exactly the idea that occurs to print editors every single time they get their hands on digital media for the first time, regardless of what the underlying technology might be: “Let’s make it just like what we know so well in print.” As a result I found it sadly lifeless and lacking in urgency. What a waste of US$30 million.
I was on a panel recently where the topic of iPad subscriptions and the media industry arose. This was prior to Apple making their big announcement, but I still think the conversation is relevant. Essentially we talked for a bit about how media companies were desperate for this model to emerge, to which I mentioned that maybe that, in itself, was a sign of failed thinking. Perhaps instead of thinking about how they’re going to translate their business model to a new medium they should spend some time focusing on how they’re going to translate their product (PDFs not doing the trick?). I know I’m not the first to say this and in some ways I hate to even talk about the misguided ways of large media organizations (even that phrase is redundant), but one of the product development things that bugs me most is building for a new medium in an old way.