Is the iPad Really the Savior of the Newspaper Industry?

In-depth analysis from Mashable about the current state of newspaper applications for mobile devices. There’s nothing conclusive in the article, but it does include some interesting tidbits and some startling facts and figures:

The Harrison Group survey found that tablet users spend nearly 75% more time reading newspapers and newspaper articles, and 25% more time reading books. Those surveyed were apparently so convinced by the digital delivery and form factor, that 81% of tablet owners believe that it is inevitable that all forms of publications will eventually be produced almost exclusively in a digital format.

Those are some pretty compelling and encouraging numbers for content creators. So why are so many of the current apps failing to make the grade?

After looking at a variety of newspaper iPad apps, our main complaint — and we’re generalizing across the entire market — is that they don’t take enough advantage of the iPad’s wowing capabilities.

Uh-oh.

The solution could be found in a new “hybrid newspaper app” suggests Fidler, in which “automated sections with continuously updated news stories and more visually rich magazine-like sections created by editors and designers could coexist.” The Reynolds Journalism Institute is experimenting with exactly that kind of new publishing model.

The NAA also acknowledges the need for newspapers to “differentiate” content, and digital strategist Levitz says that consumers read longer-form content on the iPad, and they really enjoy the high quality of the visual images on the screen. She thinks newspapers can thrive in the tablet space if they take advantage of the device’s capabilities.

So essentially, what’s being said here is “people like pretty pictures and clicky, whizzy, shiny things.” This is where so many publishers and analysts seem to be missing the point. The IPad’s wow factors aren’t it’s ability to show high-quality imagery, nor it’s slick animations. The iPad’s wow factors are it’s pick-up-ability, it’s tactile and responsive interface, it’s ability to connect your offline world seamlessly with your online world.

So many newspaper publishers got it so wrong when they tried to transition from print to the web. They failed to innovate; failed to adapt their business models; failed to see the value in their content and the power of their readers. Amid that disruption, they appear to be about to make the same mistakes again: failing to innovate, failing to adapt; failing to realise that their content has become even more valuable, and their readers ever more powerful.

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