Long time English-speaking residents of Hong Kong will know that The Standard newspaper has been through quite a few makeovers in recent years. Originally the Tiger Standard, and once a long-established South China Morning Post lookalike, it found (as did the short-lived Eastern Express, another left-of-SCMP clone) that there was only room for one SCMP in the local market. It then went tabloid with a new trendy name, HongKong iMail, for a while, before again reinventing itself as "China's Business Newspaper" under its old Standard name.
Now in yet another attempt to find a unique market niche, it has announced that it will relaunch from next week as Hong Kong's first English-language free (i.e. advertising-supported) giveaway daily (there are already several such Chinese papers, mostly handed out in MTR and KCR stations).
It remains to be seen how this latest incarnation will work out; though the Post's market leadership has never been seriously threatened over the years, the Stock Exchange's decision that listed companies need no longer print announcements in the newspapers (pointless now they all have websites) must be worrying it a bit. And the Standard can take advantage of parent Sing Tao Group's already established free paper distribution set-up.
What surprises me is that no one (since the long-ago demise of The Star) has yet tried to fill the most obvious gap in the English media market: an English language equivalent of the Apple Daily. In other words a resolutely lowbrow paper combining a strong populist pro-democracy political stance with plenty of gore and gossip, celebrity, sex and scandal, sport and showbiz . Apart from the democracy part, this is pretty much the same recipe that has made Rupert Murdoch's The Sun Britain's best-selling daily. Any investors out there reading this?