The Sydney Morning Herald in Australia has been criticised after an announcing that local users would have to subscribe to the print edition in order to access the Herald’s new iPad app.
The SmartEdition app is advertised by the paper as enabling users to “read the Herald exactly as it appears in print, but on digital devices”.
It’s ideal for when you are away from home and crave local news in the newspaper format, with the convenience of digital access.
The design has already frustrated some commentators, who have called the app a “glorifed PDF reader”. The payment method outlined by the Herald on iTunes only served to annoy some further. mUmBRELLA.com.au writes:
Australian users can subscribe to a 7-day free trial if you download before August 31, 2010 if you are not a Herald subscriber. To access THE SMH app after downloading, tap the subscribe button within the app and follow the prompts.
Readers that live outside Australia can access a 7-day, 52-week subscription to The Sydney Morning Herald SmartEdition for just AU$52 a year.
According to mUmbrella this means “if you’re in New South Wales or ACT, the only way you can get hold of the iPad app is to subscribe to the print edition”.
It’s about using the iPad app as a way of shoring up plummeting print circulations. This is all about Fairfax being able to present its iPad subscribers to the Audit Bureau of Circulations as full price print subscribers who happen to be getting a “complimentary” copy of the app.
Techdirt added to the criticisms, saying this revenue stream will prove to be a “short-sighted” move by the publishers.
It’s no secret that some publications view the iPad and paywalls as ways to slow down the rate at which people are ditching subscriptions to paper publications — but it seems particularly short-sighted to make that the only way to get access to the digital app.