Explaining the failure of The Daily, M G Siegler touches upon an interesting conundrum for content creators looking for distribution & monetization on internet & mobile:
The other element at play here is the (lack of) maturation of the distribution model…Such goals [500 million subscribers] shouldn’t be unreasonable for a popular and well-run publication, but there has to be an ecosystem that works together to make it happen. Several blogs like this one took off because other blogs would link to it and vice versa. An ecosystem formed. Perhaps Apple and other tablet makers need better syntax and tools for one tablet publication to reference another.
The advertising model works for some content, but for a lot of it, it basically sucks. And the direct payment layers aren’t anywhere near as seamless as they need to be on the standard web. Paywalls are called “walls” for a reason.
There should be an easy, quick way to directly pay a reasonable rate for content you appreciate. Apple has created that layer, but the publishers have whiffed badly when it comes to using it.
Put simply: If you build smartphone & tablet apps, you get great monetization, but poor distribution. On the other hand, plain web offers great distribution but no real path to sustainable monetization.