We've been quite critical of the NYTime's "Emperor's New Paywall,"
but there's another aspect to the discussion that goes beyond just the "paywall" itself, but the fact that part of that "paywall" is really granting access to either a smartphone or iPad app. Of course, they're charging an awful lot for the privilege of having access to the app, and you'd think if they were doing that, the app had better be damn good. Unfortunately, that appears to not be the case
. Lots of people are giving the apps pretty bad reviews. Yes, some of them are just complaining about the price, but even if you ignore those, the people who are actually paying seem to be complaining quite a bit as well. In particular, many are angry that it removed functionality
from the old app, and people who had used the old app to archive favorite stories had them all deleted
. Others are complaining that the app seems to crash all the time, and does not appear to be well implemented at all.
This raises another danger of "charging" for things that might otherwise be free. When you put up a price on things, you also increase expectations. If you fail to meet those expectations, you could face some serious backlash (not to mention customer service costs). It's really quite amazing that in those 14 months and with that $40 million, it appears that the NY Times didn't really spend all that much money on actually making their smartphone and tablet apps work well.