Here we continue our interview with Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger, who talks about the paper's new iPad edition, as well his thoughts on the future of technology and the media.
A few days before we spoke on the phone, Rusbridger emailed us his thoughts on a few more topics. We had asked, among other things, what he thought of the Times iPad app, whether Windows 8 was an influence on the Guardian iPad app's design, and if the paper planned to start charging for its website, since the iPad app will follow a subscription model once the free trial ends.
Is the Guardian targeting its app at a different audience from its print and online editions? Is there any concern that the app will cannibalise sales of the paper, is it hoped that non-paying visitors to the website will be converted to paying app users, or is the Guardian aiming to reach an entirely new readership?
AR: It's impossible to develop an app that will suit everyone's news consumption habits and, for people who want to follow breaking news and live updates, the Guardian iPad edition may not be for them - it's for people who love the Guardian, identify with the brand and want to discover thoughtful, reflective content. We have of course thought about how the app may affect sales of the newspaper but we are not in a position to predict what kind of impact this may have. We will be watching everything very closely, but we have been very open about our new digital-first strategy and how we are shifting our focus to offering our readers a range of ways for them to access our journalism, so that each individual can read our content in the most relevant and appropriate way for them.
At the moment, having a range of products and apps - print and digital - is the best solution for this. Our range of mobile products is diverse - for breaking news there is the iPhone app, our recently launched Android app, apps for Nokia and Windows phones and, of course, our mobile site, m.guardian.co.uk. Each of these products were developed with different audiences in mind and exist within different marketplaces with well-established commercial models.
In light of the subscription model announced for the app, is the Guardian reconsidering its previously stated intention to never charge for its website? Will the two services always be kept separate, or does the paper view them as the same content, simply viewed via two different media?
AR: No, our website will continue to remain paywall-free. The app is a different product with a different audience, offered within a specific marketplace. But it's important to note that other Guardian iPad apps will follow in the future, and that we'll consider each app's commercial model on a case by case basis.
What has the Guardian learnt from the Times app, and what will the paper do differently? Does the Guardian consider the Times app to have been a success, and was it a factor in deciding to launch an app, and in the final design?
AR: We always intended to launch a news-based iPad app, but wanted to spend some time to learn how people were using the device. We have watched the Times and Sunday Times apps with interest, and there are certainly some interesting elements to their approach which we took note of.
But we wanted to create something that was unique, which was designed specifically with the iPad in mind rather than transferring our traditional newspaper layout to the screen. This is why we took the time to design a product which, we believe, is like no other newspaper iPad app out there. Yes, it is our newspaper on an iPad, but it has been completely re-imagined for the device, which is something our users, so far, have certainly recognised and appreciated.
It's been widely noted that the Guardian app shares some visual styling with Windows 8, and Windows Phone 7. Were those products an influence, or is the 'tile' look simply the best approach at the present time?
AR: The similarities are purely coincidental, and I think we share less styling than people may appreciate at first glance. Our 'grid' grew out of the desire to add hierarchy to the layouts, though it's no surprise that other companies have chosen to divide screens up in this way as it fits the iPad, and other digital forms, very well.
Can professional news gatherers ever hope to compete with bloggers and smartphone-equipped civilians? Is the future of news more opinion- and analysis-based? Was this thinking an influence on the structure of the app?
AR: The Guardian iPad edition is indeed a more reflective read, mirroring the new ways that readers are consuming our newspaper content; half our readers now read the paper in the evening, while they get their breaking news from our website or on mobile. So yes, this did influence our thinking behind this particular app.
However, our open approach to reporting on the web means that bloggers and smartphone-equipped civilians are becoming increasingly involved in our journalism, and our rolling live blogs are a fantastic example of how readers can contribute to our stories thanks to their ever-growing access to technologies - at the Guardian we're collaborating with them rather than competing with them.