Newspapers - tablets v print
Written by Sue Gee   
Monday, 14 March 2011

Just as the iPad 2 went on sale in the U.S. there is evidence that users do not yet see tablets as substitutes for  print newspapers.

The finding that has led to this conclusion comes from Tim Rowell, Director of Mobile Product Development for the Telegraph, a leading "serious" UK newspaper.

Having developed a feature-rich iPad app last year the Telegraph decided not to go ahead with it and instead launched a simpler free app that could give tracking data to provide them with feedback about how it was being used.

iPad2

Around half of the users - 60,000 people allowed the app to collect data which revealed that the iPad app is being used on average seven times a month - on days when users were unable to buy a "real" paper!

Another important finding was that the devices were typically left at home rather than being carried around. This is possibly unsurprising given the purchase price of an iPad and the risk of losing the device or having it stolen might deter users from taking it with them on journeys, which, ironically is where newspaper apps could be expected to be most used.

Other stats were that the average age of users was 47 and that the app was being used in 186 countries. All this data will no doubt be useful to the Telegraph in launching Version 2 of the app next month.

News Corp meanwhile has passed 200,000 subscribers on tablets for its tablet editions. This figure, originating from Wall Street Journal publisher Les Hinton is a combination of News Corp's paid subscriber base on all tablet-size devices, including the iPad, Android tablets, the Kindle, and the Nook. In contrast, the print edition of the Wall Street Journal currently represents a circulation of approximately 1.6 million. So although Hinton presented the figure as surprisingly high they are being interpreted elsewhere as being disappointingly low.

ipad2b

What all this means for the success of News Corp's tablet only publication the Daily is difficult to say but it is hard to see why it should buck the overall trend of "paper still beats tablet when it comes to news".

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