These are still early days, but the Apple iPad is the leading-edge tablet and it's worth understanding the early learning of its use in determining how devices will alter the consumption of media.
NPD has released its second study of iPad users. The main headline --- apart from substantial satisfaction with the iPad --- is that 20 per cent of usage takes place in bed. But the more significant findings indicate that netbooks and laptops are threatened by the tablet's incursion into email, browsing and software use.
The survey indicates, though, that the initial purchasers are more attached to their iPads than those who bought them more recently. It suggests that the core loyalist isn't necessarily indicative of the overall use. Indeed, there remains some criticism --- the lack of a USB port, for instance, or easy printing solutions.
Newspapers are producing new applications for Apple's iPad
in the hope they provide more significant per-reader advertising revenue and, perhaps, more significant per-reader subscription revenue.
But The Economist notes
it's not yet a match made in heaven. There are several challenges as papers enter the app age. Apple is making it difficult to sell subscriptions (the other day word surfaced that Apple is going to take a 30% cut on such revenue) and is reluctant to say much about buyers (frustrating for publications that want to cross-sell into other services).
Another dilemma is what to do about existing free Web services --- wall them off, curtail their offerings, retire their development? The Economist
suggests that publishers are hoping another device, perhaps with Google's Android operating system, emerges and gives them some leverage over Apple.
Richard McManus provides an early synopsis
in ReadWriteWeb on the climate for newspaper innovation as iPad applications emerge. His conclusion: More work ahead.What McManus found isn't surprising: Newspapers often want the iPad app to emulate the experience of the newspaper, in no small part because these are early days for the tablet and our understanding of the experience it provides.
With news that News Corp. has set its sights on an iPad national newspaper (reportedly named The Daily Planet), McManus found that to date the newspapers aren't creating anything technically new on the tablet. He found Flipbook and Newsy, two made-for-iPad apps, far more in line with what's likely needed to succeed in the space.
He suggests interactivity and personalization need to be features to provide depth and different experiences.
Futurist Ross Dawson spoke this week
at the Newspaper Publishers Association conference in his native Australia and delivered a new timeline
for the point-of-no-return-to-glory newspaper: 2022. By that time, he expects most media companies will have transformed into thriving new media businesses.
Note that Dawson doesn't say newspapers will die/disappear/dissolve by then, only that their relevance will diminish to the point of irrelevance.
Dawson believes that within a dozen years e-reading tablets won't cost much more than pharmaceutical tablets --- about $10 --- and they will be the primary form of news consumption. He thinks news will be increasingly crowdsourced and that individual reputations of journalists will drive the size of audiences.
Meantime, news companies will need to transform into firms emphasizing social connection.
As for revenue, it will grow but disperse, Dawson predicts.
Next Issue Media released a study
today indicating the U.S. periodical business can recognize $3 billion in interactive revenue by 2014. It's a prediction predicated on some challenging assumptions --- lots of devices, lots of familiarity, touchscreens and colour --- but the Oliver Wyman study
identifies some major gains ahead for 230 periodicals:
1. Higher renewal rates of subscriptions if an interactive edition is available --- 64% instead of 55%.
2. Greater revenue from bundled print/interactive packages, something consumers so far like.
3. Bill-me-later interactive editions heavily reduce churn rates to 25% from 45%, again yielding greater revenue.
4. Cross-selling advertising through recommendation engines through the editions will drive revenue from other products.
5. Availability of interactive editions will triple uptake from non-subscribers to the print periodical, to 15% from 5%.
The study nevertheless indicates some immense challenges for publishers: devices need to be encouraged, archival material made available, workflows changed, partnerships established, among other things.
arrives internationally this Friday. Peter Preston does the math in the United Kingdom for The Observer in the Guardian
and calculates its impact will be a pittance in the pot of newspaper financial needs.
It is more than a news device, and that's part of the problem, Preston concludes.
Considering how many newspapers are sold nationally, how many iPads will be sold nationally, and how many users will employ the iPad to consume news, it's a matter "of bits and bobs, not salvation," he writes.
"The iPad – plus heirs and successors, perhaps – isn't some surrogate digital newspaper waiting to rescue Fleet Street. It's different, with a different appeal. It will surely a find a money-coining slot in the digital spectrum. But salvation? That's something else (even before your wife goes upstairs to bed)," Preston argues.
At the moment, Apple is selling more iPads than Macs in the United States as the device emerges in the market.
That consumption curve isn't necessarily going to last, but a new study suggests
media tablets will remain hot commodities in the years ahead.
The IDC study suggests the 7.6 million units in play this year will grow to more than 46 million by 2014 in the U.S. Compounded that's more than 57% annual growth.
They will move to nice-to-have devices to essential consumer products, the bullish study indicates.
A key will be development of applications unique to tablets to differentiate them from smartphones and PCs. The implications for the news business are significant as that market grows.
Gerry Storch, the editor of OurBlook
and a former Gannett manager, posts a three-point argument
to Forbes.com why and how newspapers should charge online.
There aren't any particular surprises in what he proposes, but in the context of more news sites examining paywalls, it's an interesting reminder.
Storch's three-step program:
1. Go online entirely. Use the new devices like the Apple iPad to deliver the content. Get rid of the printing plant and the distribution process that goes with it.
2. Go local. There is no point in doing things outside your market. Take all the talent devoted to non-local and shift them back into the district.
3. Charge, charge and charge some more.
Too simple? What do people think?
Benedict Evans, a consultant at the Enders Analysis firm, argues in paidContent UK
that the Apple iPad doesn't stand to silence the newspaper presses. In short, the prospects for the new device won't generate a viable business model for the paper.
The real question is one of scale, Evans argues. Not enough will be sold, and not enough people will pay for content once they own one, to cover the cost of a newspaper model predicated on the absence of the Internet.
While some have argued that the applications --- and not the subscriptions, per se --- will drive the revenue, Evans suggests the long-term sustainability of the app model shaping consumption is questionable.
"The main impact of the iPad might be to erode further the position of print publications and their websites, by giving all of the web the same portability as a physical newspaper or magazine," Evans writes.
Normally the Reflections of a Newsosaur blog is filled with the dire news of declining newspaper circulation and revenue. But in his latest post
, Alan Mutter is sounding a bit of a clarion call to publishers: They can win by using Apple's iPad properly.
For the first time, Mutter says, a device is there to play to the strengths of the print medium's depth of content. Given everyone is starting on equal footing to create applications and functions for the iPad, Mutter believes print publishers can create winning strategies by acting swiftly and decisively.
The strength of print is in its subtle and deep exploration of issues. It is a lean-back medium, a solitary one, and a medium in which drama can be built with words when neither audio nor video is available.
What he advocates (apart from action now) is unclear, but Mutter says it's not feasible simply to migrate content. New functions and depth need to emerge, or else the glaring weakness of print online will be repeated.