The Guardian’s Reflecting on iPad apps, while The Indy Begins Building a Paywall

News coming from the more liberal end of the broadsheet spectrum this week shows just how differently The Guardian and The Independent are adapting to the digital publishing landscape.

After some time cooing over Apple’s tablet, The Guardian has almost gotten around to launching an iPad app. At launch it will be free, thanks to some sponsorship from those broadcast types at Channel 4, but after a few months it’ll set you back a full £9.99 a month (blimey, you can get a premium Spotify subscription for that). That’s unless you subscribe to the good old fashioned print edition, in which case it will cost you nothing. Oh, and if you’re not in the UK, you’ll still have to fork out. Sorry America.

It’s not just a re-hash of the paper mind you, but is more focused on a ‘reflective’ reading experience. That’s according to editor-in-chief Alan Rusbridger, who states in the promotion video, “We’re not going to be scrambling to update it every minute or every hour…We will do that on the browser, the browser is a place to go for liveblogging and to go searching for material. This is going to be a different kind of read, a bit more reflective.”

The Independent, on the other hand, is taking a much more gung-ho approach in the digital space. The paper has also announced an iPad app, and has plans for a paywall a la The Financial Times (that’s a small amount of content for free, as opposed to The Times’ cash or nothing approach). The paywall could be up as soon as next week, with the accompanying iPad app being offered at a pay-per-day rate or at the expected monthly and yearly subscriptions.

The paper is also choosing to axe around 70,000 of its free print copies from circulation, which usually end up in stations, hotels or those little stands next to the air steward as you board an aeroplane. This is part of an effort to reposition the paper as a “multimedia title”. That means a good 45% of the audited circulation will disappear overnight, save for a few copies requested by BA and Hilton Hotels. The deficit will be made up of free copies of the 20p i sister paper, which will see its circulation jump to over 183,000. Moreover, this will fulfil certain existing contracts with advertisers that have been promised a combined circulation of 340,000 – albeit in a sneaky fashion.

Given the relative closeness of the two papers – both liberal-leaning daily nationals – it’s very interesting that The Guardian can sit back and produce a reflective, almost experimental type app, while the Indy is making dramatic changes to both physical and digital editions almost overnight. Of course, this is the first decent update to the Indy’s site and digital offering since 2007 – so it’s a little overdue. For some perspective, back in 2007 we were just beginning to gleam the idea there might be more to Apple than expensive laptops than little while music boxes.

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