Branson vs. Murdoch: Who will win iPad media battle?

26 Nov, 2010

Branson and Murdoch will go head-to-head with their specialised iPad-only publications, but who will come out on top?

COMMENT: Media powerhouses Richard Branson and Rupert Murdoch have both announced their respective firms will be launching iPad publications in the coming weeks.

With two behemoths about to go head-to-head in this embryonic space, many will be wondering who will come out on top: the famous British entrepreneur, or the super-powerful media mogul?

On first appearances, given News Corp’s history, and rumours Murdoch has been in touch with Apple head Steve Jobs over launching the publication, one would be inclined to back the Australian – something Paddy Power has agreed with.

Yesterday, in odds covering which digital publication will have the highest circulation by the end of 2011, News Corporation’s Daily was on 2/5, whilst Virgin’s Project had 7/4.

However, there was clearly still room for doubt. “With Steve Jobs involvement, News Corp’s digital publication is a very strong favourite but this is quite literally a ‘virgin’ space so I guess anything could happen,” the bookmaker said.

Is it really a ‘virgin’ space, though? Numerous media organisations jumped on the opportunity to make their publication more iPad-friendly as soon as the device was released.

How will these new offerings differentiate themselves from the other, already established iPad-tailored papers and magazines, some of which are already owned by Murdoch? Why does he in particular need to introduce an even more specialised publication?

It’s likely the Daily will charge its readers for the privilege, potentially putting off some iPad owners already. Whilst News Corp may be happy with its paywall thus far, those online publications which now charge have surely only maintained readership due to their reputation. A new publication without a defined character or political persuasion would struggle to convince readers of its worthiness, especially if they were told they had to pay from the outset.