Does the Growth of Tablet Ownership Herald a New Age for News Publishers?

The iPad is less than three years old but can any of us who own one remember how we got on without it? The tablet is already changing how we consume media and yet tablet use would appear to be in its infancy.

56 million tablets were sold last year and this figure is expected to grow to 665 million, or 21 per cent of all internet users globally by 2016, according to Gartner.

Irish consumers have welcomed the tablet with open arms. In fact, 41 per cent of people reported that they hoped to own a tablet device in 2012 (RedC/WIN – Connecting the World: Mobile and Social Media Trends).

So, what does this mean for news consumption in Ireland? Certainly, there is significant potential for news publishers to take advantage of the greater usability that tablet devices provide over desktop, laptop and smart phone devices.

Tablet ownership increases news consumption

In its recent World Press Trends 2012 report WAN-IFRA stated that more than half of tablet owners say that they consume news on their tablet daily and 30 per cent say that they spend more time with news than they did before purchasing the tablet.

It is even more encouraging to read within the findings of a recent study conducted by the Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism that 14 per cent of tablet news users have paid directly for content on their devices.

Pew presents a range of promising statistics from the US market. Amongst these are findings that demonstrate that tablet users are not just scanning headlines. 73 per cent of adults who consume news on their tablet read in-depth articles. 19 per cent read in-depth articles daily.

Tablet ownership strengthens the news experience

Both WAN-IFRA and Pew’s findings suggest that users employ tablets and other mobile devices to strengthen their news experience and furthermore, that they now get news from a range of different platforms in different instances.

In this respect, Pew’s The Future of Mobile News report makes some very interesting observations.

Firstly, it notes that the introduction of new devices and formats does not necessarily replace old technology but rather that we are seeing the advent of a new multi-platform news consumer.

The report found that 50 percent of tablet users also read news in print; 54 per cent of tablet users get news on their smartphone and 25 per cent get news in print, on their desktop, tablet and smartphone.

A second encouraging finding is that mobile devices are actually leading to an increase in news consumption overall and that the increase in news activity is found to be heaviest amongst those who get news across all four platforms.

Pew’s report suggests that the new multi-platform news consumers tend to be more engaged news consumers and as a result, may offer the greatest potential for news organizations.

Find out more

WAN-IFRA World Press Trends

Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism:

The Future of Mobile News

The Demographics of Mobile News