The Times Gives iPad Readers Another Free Month

Times Newspapers in the UK is giving its early iPad customers a free one-month subscription for the second time in as many months, in an attempt to migrate readers to a more stable version of the app.

In an email to customers, executive editor Danny Finkelstein promises the offer to readers who upgrade to version 1.4.1, which The Times issued last week to “resolve the previous issues you may have experienced, including local date and time settings and unexpected freezing of the application“.

It means a complimentary £9.99 renewal for at least some of The Times’ installed iPad base, which a former Times reporter this week reported to be 12,500 since launch. How many people received the offer – and, therefore, how many potential £9.99s the paper will lose – is not clear.

Many customers have reported stability problems with The Times app, though by no means everyone (I’ve had no problems, though I find that other iPad apps frequently crash). The publisher says in iTunes Store: “We are still working on resolving problems around handling wireless connectivity and downloading editions after heavy iPad usage. The next version is being worked on as a matter of urgency in order to resolve these remaining issues.”

Finkelstein’s e-mail says: “We have been able to make sure this innovative product overcomes some of the technical teething problems that are inevitable on a new device like the iPad. But we know that there is more to do. Our next update will make the product more stable, fix bugs and help prevent crashes. Technical improvements will also help avoid the late delivery of editions as experienced on Monday.”

Despite the niggles, the app is well regarded by folks who experience no problems. And it’s about to get even better, with the next version bearing new features including The Times’ weekday pull-out supplements, daily crossword and Saturday Magazine. But there’s still no Sunday Times bundled, nor a separate Sunday Times app.

It’s a good idea for The Times to placate early customers who have experienced crashes after buying the app.

One month ago, The Times gave early iPad buyers a free month as an inducement to migrate to a version of the app with built-in subscription renewal capability, because the initial version did not ship with any way to buy a second month’s sub from within the app.

On the website, the new charging structure has been set at an introductory £1-a-month for the first month, rather than the scheduled £1-a-day and £2-a-week.

Put together, it means The Times is resorting to complimentary offers in its paid strategy’s early days.