NYTimes Reader

The NYTimes Reader is available for the Mac.

Great but I don’t get this entire initiative at any level. They position it as a way to enhance the reader experience but from my perspective it appears to be nothing more than a vehicle through which they can control access and charge a monthly fee.

Has a web-based experience been an obstacle for accessing NYTimes content? No, if anything the primary obstacles for the NYTimes have been self-imposed, their pay-wall and the now defunct Times Select program. The Times Reader is a technology exercise that reflects the NYTimes persistent view that people should have to pay for NYTimes content, in the face of declining subscription readership and overwhelming trend data to the contrary in the broader newspaper industry.

A lot of commenters are up in arms about the NYTimes use of Silverlight for the Mac version. This is something that the chattering classes will be up in arms about but the broader market will skip over, besides, Silverlight is actually pretty cool. The Mac community is interesting in this regard, we tend to value competition except when it comes from Microsoft, or put another way, would the Mac space really be better off if only Adobe were providing this essential technology? Would Adobe have open sourced Flash were it not for Microsoft?

This initiative will ultimately fail for the following reasons:

1) it’s something they have to maintain and enhance, e.g. lack of copy-and-paste.

2) they will have to incur a support cost associated with downloadable products, both in the customer acquisition phase and on an ongoing basis

3) the monthly subscription model is self-limiting in the long run because it limits your options on other platforms, such as mobile.

4) doesn’t do anything for you in your SEO efforts and monetization through search traffic