It’s 2011 and as more and more people opt to get their news fix from digital sources, main stream media is forced to adopt to the new world, often making decisions that make them look … how should we put this kindly, foolish. Enter The New York Post, one of the more sensational newspapers you can choose to read. They’ve decided that should you be using Apple’s iPad and type their website’s URL into your address bar, instead of displaying their content, they’ll prompt you to install their application, which isn’t even free, and then ask you to signup for a subscription. Let’s run through a list of reasons why this is a bad idea: 1) People will stop reading The New York Post because chances are what they want to read about will be available for free via a simple Google search; 2) People will go to their website using an alternative browser such as Opera Mini, which doesn’t share the same user agent, aka the bit of code that browsers tell web servers what browser and which version of said browser is requesting their website; 3) They don’t even make their application free, which might make more people install it instead of questioning why they’d spend $1.99 to get access to that one article their friend shared on their Facebook wall.
Listen, we’re in the content industry too, can’t you tell by all the ads that clutter up our website? It’s a cruel world, with competition from new entrants keeping us on our toes, but reducing access to your content isn’t the best way to make friends. If you want your heaviest users to pay, then do what The Financial Times or The New York Times does, they let you read a certain amount of articles per month at no cost. Putting the digital equivalent of a naval blockade around your website is, for lack of a better word, retarded.