"The Daily" coming to iPads near you

This looks promising if Steve Jobs and Rupert Murdoch are able to pull it off with a staff of mere 100.

A News Corp. Newspaper, but Not in Print

Rupert Murdoch, an old-timey newspaper romantic, has nonetheless deputized himself as the digital savior of paid content. Mr. Murdoch is currently leading the charge to build The Daily, an iPad-centered newspaper under construction in the News Corporation’s Manhattan offices that is scheduled to appear at the beginning of next year.

With an investment of $30 million and a staff of around 100, The Daily will be the first of a kind — a “newspaper” with rich media and photography built especially for the iPad.

Beyond editorial challenges, the path to a real business with real profits seems a lot less clear than the display on an iPad. If, as Mr. Murdoch is said to hope, half a million people eventually subscribe over the first five years, that would be almost 5 percent of all current tablet users, which seems wildly optimistic. (Then again, by some estimates, the number of tablet users will grow to more than 100 million in the same period.)

In the meantime, reaching about 100,000 people seems far more likely, which would yield less than $20 million annually, even before Apple gets a cut. And the discrete market for advertising within applications seems promising, but it is largely untested.

In the short run at least, The Daily will be like a number of Mr. Murdoch’s other newspapers in this respect: It will be depending on money earned by other parts of the News Corporation.