Post Paywall Hits Up iPad Users For More Dough But Does The Math Make Sense?

The bizarre attempt by the New York Post to boost iPad app sales both entertained and surprised me. It seems that someone at the Post believes it’s worth singling out iPad users and forcing them to subscribe via an app. If you haven’t experienced the extortion firsthand, Dave Winer posted a screenshot of what happened when he tried to click through on his iPad to a Post story.

Someone at the Post must have started playing with a calculator, because the potential economics do add up to some interesting math. According to, had 3.7 million unique views in May 2011. If only one percent of site visitors subscribed via the iPad, it could amount to a nice bump in revenue:

  • $1.99 (app cost) x 1% of 3.7 million = $73,600
  • 12 months at $6.99 (monthly subscription) x 1% of 3.7 million = $3.1 million in revenue

Unfortunately for the Post, users have other choices, making this move a little odd. On the iPad, you can get the Opera mini browser for free, giving users regular, unfettered access to the Post. Other web browser options exist, too, so you could easily bypass the paywall on the iPad. In fact, any browser that allows you to set you browser agent will get you the Post content that you want.

The question is really one of convenience. If you absolutely must access the Post on your iPad, and you can’t be bothered to use another browser, then you’ll pay up for the app and subscription fees. On the other hand, if you value your hard-earned money and resent being singled out as a fat cat with disposable income, you might find another source for news. That $3.1 million stops looking realistic. It then becomes a question of what real success looks like for the Post. For the UK Time, paywall success was set at a pretty low number.

And why the attack on iPads? If you have a computer, Android tablet, or almost any smart phone, you can still access the Post for free. Making the iPad the target seems like a shortsighted way to generate revenue on content that’s available for free through other channels. As part of their internal projections, did product managers and financial types do the math of what it might cost them to annoy and alienate their users? Maybe it will be a runaway success, but Winer’s point that they’re “breaking the web” may prove even more valid.

About Duane Kuroda

Business ninja, deal hunter, Internet marketer, and technology fiddler obsessed about growing companies and launching products. Currently at Peerspin, Duane’s past lives include Vice President of Marketing roles at companies leading micropayments, Internet video, and online communities as well as research and consulting for mobile advertising. Duane has spoken at conferences including Digital Hollywood and Digital Video Expo on topics covering monetizing online content and online video, has appeared on TechNowTV and KNTV, and has been quoted in various magazines. Follow Duane on Twitter: @dkuroda.

2 Responses to Post Paywall Hits Up iPad Users For More Dough But Does The Math Make Sense?

  1. Ooops!….Without a Monopoly News Corp have proved to be pretty poor at decision making for a long time.