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 Compete.com, nypost.com 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 canâ€™t be bothered to use another browser, then youâ€™ll pay up for the app and subscription fees.Â 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.