WSJ iPad app weighs in at $3.99/ week

Matt Bowman · April 2, 2010 · Short URL:

Hefty price tag probably won't deter business readers, despite ho-hum additional features

The Wall Street Journal just unveiled details of its iPad app. The price is a hefty $17.29/ month, or $3.99 per week. Compare that to $2.69 for both the online and print editions together, and $1.99 for online access only.

So, what do you get, over and above the obvious? You get an easier way to save articles for later and an archive of last week’s news to read offline. At least those seems to be the only features that go beyond the online edition. Here’s the full list of benefits:

  • "Now" issue featuring updated coverage throughout the day, with top article picks from Journal editors
  • Market data including quote search and customizable Watchlist
  • Videos and slideshows
  • Subscriber only content: Business, Markets, Opinion and more
  • 7 day archive downloaded for reading anytime, even offline
  • Saved sections and articles for later reading
  • My Journal for saving and sharing articles across and mobile

Maybe that “customizable watchlist” is somehow prettier than what you get online—we won’t know till it comes out. Overal, a pretty ho-hum offering.

The WSJ is being careful to get access to its subscribers’ info, the lifeblood of the newspaper industry, by providing a bare-bones app for free, and then charging subscribers separately, not through the App Store, for the full subscription. The free version provides just the top articles section and basic market data.

Chances are anyone who has a professional reason to subscribe to WSJ and has an iPad won’t be deterred by the price. While bloggers will complain about the pricing (because that's what we do best), the fact is, all the armchair pundits thought Murdoch was crazy for erecting a pay wall online, and now the NYT is following his lead. The man seems to be the only one in the newspaper industry who knows how to make money anymore.

Still, I'm hoping Murdoch has more tricks up his sleeve. As we’ve said in the past, the iPad presents a potential shot in the arm for newspapers, but only if Big Media goes buck wild hiring developers to tap into the tech potential of the iPad’s features like touch screen, integration with other personal data on the iPad, device movement and orientation capabilities... Picture interactive 360-degree videos in Haiti minutes after the Earthquake that lets you nagivate around by moving the device, graphs of economic data with variables you can change by manipulating them with your fingers on-screen, a side-bar to a story about email that let’s you compare the number of messages in your iPad inbox with the national average with one touch....

Consuming news on the iPad can become a completely different experience than reading the paper, but the current feature list indicates that for now, we're just getting the same old content on a smaller screen for a bigger price.

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