Analysis: News Corp’s digital iPad newspaper to launch 2/2

After an unexpected delay, it’s now being reported that Rupert Murdoch will launch his next revolution in media on February 2, when The Daily is set to be available on Apple’s iPad.

The Daily is just like any other newspaper except there’s no paper. It will be written by a staff of professional journalists, working at an office in midtown Manhattan, but it will only be made available on the iPad.

Murdoch was supposed to appear with Steve Jobs and other Apple executives at a media event earlier this to announce to launch of Daily, but that event was canceled.

The Daily’s launch is hotly anticipated because it could mark the beginning of a new chapter in media. Sure, other online publications exist, but none has the clout of coming from a behemoth like News Corp. Meanwhile, other big publishers make their print media available on the iPad and other devices, but still have a print business as well. News Corp’s new initiative is the first of its kind.

But the question is whether or not this will work. Could it just be a big flop? There really isn’t enough data yet to know if people will want to buy a newspaper that they’re not familiar with. The Wall Street Journal, another News Corp publication, and other magazines are doing well on the iPad, but that’s because people recognize their names and like the idea of having a publication they can normally only get in print, in a digital format.

Having something that is only made for that digital format loses its novelty. To some, it will undoubtedly be nothing more than reading a blog or online news site. And there are plenty of those that are free.

The Daily will cost 99 cents per week, a significantly different price than those who subscribe to a physical newspaper, but admittedly steeper than an online news blog.

Since the announcement of The Daily last year, other media companies have expressed interested in doing the same kind of thing, but Murdoch and News Corp will really be the guinea pigs, as everyone watches to see if this could be the saving grace for print media companies.

And we all know what being a guinea pig means. You’ll either be slaughtered for nothing more than a spot as an eternal footnote, or you’ll spawn an entirely new wave of innovation and be on top of everyone else for a long time.

The Daily might be too early for its time, it might simply prove that newspapers are dead – regardless if they’re on paper or not, but it also might actually start a revolution in the global media industry. But the more likely scenario is it just stands there, doing well enough to keep the publication working, but never really causing any sort of cataclysm at all.