In My Opinion: Craig McGill: The Herald goes all digital, but watch…

HAVE to say, fair play to The Herald for having such a comprehensive digital offering – charging different prices for different combinations of uses – but I bet you that within 12-18 months you will see a change.

There are seven models of subscription on offer, ranging from free to £9.99 a month and that’s great. It reflects the heyday of Sony’s business model where you could buy a good product, say a video camera, for £299. But you could then buy a slightly better model for £349, an even better one for £399 and a belter for £499. The point being, there was something for every wallet – something Apple copied when the iPod range was peaking in sales and popularity.

And while most people now see digital as being the long-term future of news (though no doubt there will be a few editors and journalists still calling the web and mobile ‘a fad’), the product offering will probably streamline.

Look at it this way: if I can get The Herald on the web for £2.99, then why pay extra for the tablet versions when it’s still going to be the same offering? Equally, why pay even more for the mobile version when I can get the web for £2.99? Why isn’t it all just one responsive design offering?

Now there are ways to make the mobile and tablet offering more appealing – downloading articles for offline reading for example (something that’s very handy on a bus or train trip where the connection comes and goes) – but I think as time goes on and we see more convergence over tablets and mobile, we’ll see the packages merge – first to a web + tablet/phone offering and then just one size-fits-all.

Doing it HTML5 makes life simpler so that if BlackBerry makes a ‘comeback’ or Microsoft/Nokia want to be involved, then you don’t need to create a new app.

But what about the Kindle offering? I like news on a Kindle, so I hope that stays, but it depends on buy up and what Amazon does with the range – will they move more towards tablets and do away with the e-readers? If so, then see the previous paragraph for what’s going to happen.

So, if the offering is streamlined and/or cheaper, where are the money making opportunities? Well, we’ve covered that in the past with how the Press can make money from online.

It’s definitely going to be a streamlined future, though. As long as the content and staff aren’t streamlined then, it should be good.

Craig McGill has written for – or been a member of staff at – TIME Magazine, The Guardian, Daily Mirror, The Scotsman, Evening Times, The Press and Journal, The Sun and Evening Times. Author of four non-fiction books and lecturer in ‘cross-platform journalism’ at Edinburgh Napier University, McGill is currently the digital strategist (Scotland, Ireland and Northern Ireland) for Weber Shandwick. You can get him via Twitter @craigmcgill