iPad! (and oh yeah, Newsday’s 35 subscribers)
That iPad is one cool thing, eh?
No question, it will change how people watch videos, listen to music, type stuff, look at photos, play games, and read books, magazines, and newspapers.
What it won’t do is change the economics for newspapers.
Newspapers’ economic problem is this: their expense structure depends on advertising, and high advertising rates. Very little of their revenue comes from print subscriptions. So one would think that when a new delivery vehicle comes along, like the iPad, the question would be: how well does the ad model translate to this vehicle? Will advertisers pay a premium to appear alongside quality news content, as they do in print?
But no, the question is “Will the iPad enable newspapers to charge people to read news?”
I guess the answer is yes, they’ll be able to charge. But the real answer is that nobody will buy, and now we have some evidence of that reality.
According to The Observer, only 35 people have signed up for Newsday’s subscription model after 6 months and $4 million of site development. This isn’t a prediction or debate anymore, it’s reality.
Back to the iPad’s potential impact on newspaper advertising: from the photos and videos I’ve seen, the screen looks like it’s big enough to display ads and content simultaneously.
I expect the highest potential could be a magazine-style presentation: the tablet is held horizontally, with two facing pages. One page would be content, and the facing page would be a full-page ad. As the user flips pages, new ads appear.
Even so, that’s a big leap for newspapers to make in technology, layout, ad sales, ad production, etc. But at least it’s not as big a leap as expecting people to pay to read news.
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