I am sure the Washington Post’s new iPad app is a wonderful way to read the venerable newspaper. It certianly seems perfectly serviceable at first glance. In addition to articles and full-screen photos and videos, you can share articles on Twitter or Facebook and see what “Top Tweeters” are saying about related topics. The app gives you the entire paper on your iPad for free (well, sponsored by Exxon mobil) until February 2011, after which there will be some sort of subscription. In other words, nobody is going to read it after the paywall goes up, except maybe existing subscribers.
My guess is that the Washington Post‘s print subscribers, as with most newspapers, tend to be in the older set. It doesn’t help that the video above promoting the new iPad app makes it feel so geriatric. It stars the Post’s venerable reporter Bob Woodward alongside its venerable former editor Ben Bradlee, and self-consciously pokes fun at itself. But the video is not funny. It just falls flat. (Bradlee almost saves it, but he can only carry Woodward so far). It certainly doesn’t make me want to try the app. Even the younger newsroom staff in the video come across as clueless.
But then, I doubt it is targeted at me. Maybe it is aimed at the Washington Post’s current readers as a way to ease them into the digital world. The video is a lost opportunity, though, because if anything the iPad could be a a way to get newer, younger readers who have already given up ink and paper for the touchscreen. Except for the paywall thing. That is just not gonna fly.