Friday, July 13, 2012 at 3:04 pm.

Time’s Up For ‘The Daily’?

The Daily, Rupert Murdoch’s iPad newspaper, is apparently on probation while News Corp. figures out “whether it could turn around losses that were estimated at roughly $30 million a year,” the NYT’s Amy Chozick reported yesterday.

I don’t know The Daily’s specific costs or revenues, but my guess is that it’s neither being produced as cheaply nor as extravagantly as it could be. (Might as well go big or go home, though, right?) But it’s easy to check how it fits into the bigger picture of iPad-app money makers using iTunes store data.

Today in Apple’s iPad App Store, The Daily is the no. 37 highest-grossing app, below the New York Times, New York Post, and a crapload of games.

The Daily chart

The Daily’s highest-grossing-iPad-app ranks, via App Annie.

Since launching early last year, it appears The Daily has never dipped below the top 50 highest-grossing iPad apps, according to data from App Annie (see chart). A lot of the time, it was in the top 20, and often in the top 10. Among news and Newsstand apps, it’s always in the top 5.

That’s pretty good, I guess — could be worse. (As Apple sells more iPads, being lower in the ranks could easily mean more money than a year ago.)

But the trend lines are moving in the wrong direction. And even being in the top 50 every day isn’t enough revenue to be profitable: “Publisher Greg Clayman told The Times in February that The Daily was on track to break even in five years, short of the average time it takes for a print magazine to see a profit,” Chozick writes. (At that point, it had 100,000 subs paying $1 a week or $40 a year.)

The question, then, is whether News Corp. wants to place its iPad/mobile content bets in a new, okay-but-not-great news brand (The Daily), its existing ones (WSJ, NYPost, etc.), or perhaps in other genres.

Bigger problem: The Daily has failed to achieve the editorial goal it set last year — to find amazing, compelling stories that no one else had. Besides its huge scoop in February that Microsoft Office was expected to launch on the iPad in the “coming weeks” — good idea, but wrong! — I haven’t been to its site or app in months.

News Corp. can handle losses for a while when the stories are great. But when they aren’t, what’s the point?

Also: Analyzing Apple’s All-Time Top Apps Lists