Since Apple introduced the iPad eighteen months ago and shifted the focus of tablet computers from work devices to multimedia uses, the demands of its users have also changed. While other companies are hoping to grab a piece of this market - like Amazon and the impending release of their Kindle Fire – consumers will be the ones to win out with the diverse uses of these devices.
With their place in society integrating at a quick rate, so too are their users with a new study suggesting that news and media is well on its way to becoming the dominant use for tablet computers.
Earlier this week, a study, conducted by the Pew Research Center's Project for Excellence in Journalism in collaboration with The Economist Group, found that out of the 11 per cent of U.S. adults who own a tablet computer – in theory that's roughly 34 million – 53 per cent of them get their news from those devices every day.
This was more popular than social networking (39 per cent) and gaming (30 per cent) and almost as popular as sending and receiving email (54 per cent), with only a margin of one per cent separating the two. Other significant findings include that media brands still play a massive part in news consumption with CNN, USA Today and the New York Times being the most popular news sites for visiting.
The Future of Newspapers?
While it's a very comprehensive report – one that this post barely scratches the surface of – it gives us an insight as to how media is going to be consumed in the future as well as an idea for traditional media outlets as to how they can adapt.
The use of tablets for consuming news and media appears to be the frontrunner to replacing the newspaper as the main source of news. In the study, those who owned tablets viewed it as a family device instead of one for personal use, meaning anyone could use it to read the news or browse the web. The evolution of such devices has been touched upon before with The New York Times developing a prototype tablet table which could be used by the family for this very purpose.
While many media outlets are now focusing on multimedia content such as videos, podcasts and interactive graphs as well as 24 hour content, the use of these devices is reflecting the demand to stay relevant to readers, let alone be ahead of the pack.
It's an interesting development as not only are traditional outlets under threat in terms of the speed of publishing a story but also in how they present that information. Earlier this week, the founder of celebrity gossip website TMZ, Harvey Levin, said that old news media haven't adjusted to changing delivery systems and evolving consumer tastes. Stating that young people aren't interested in how traditional media is presented, he referred to TMZ's quick, casual and light-hearted style of presenting news as a model relevance.
Whether Levin's prediction becomes a reality is unclear. However, it's only a matter of time before new generations become accustomed to the idea of tablets as media devices, and the days of daily newspapers become a thing of the past.
As information becomes instantaneous, more and more people will check their browsers or apps to see what the latest news is, shifting the focus away from print media. That said, weekly or even monthly magazines and newspapers may be able to survive and even flourish in this environment by focusing on feature and developed content that isn't tied down to the immediate deadlines that online content is bound to.
However one area of concern is the potential for generating revenue through paid content, with only 14 per cent paying directly for news on their tablet. This means that the question of generating revenue through online content is still one that needs answering as readers are reluctant to pay for content that's usually free. A working and trusted model for online advertising hasn't been found yet, and while readers may bemoan them if they appear in any way intrusive – especially in the case of news apps – media outlets still need to find a way for the current system to work or create an entirely new one from scratch to emerge from the other side.
The Pew Research center have presented this information as both an infographic and as a slideshow alongside the more comprehensive report, which can be viewed on their site.