We have seen it coming for the last few years and now the Pew Project for Excellence in Journalism’s 2012 State of the Media report confirms that the future of news is mobile.
With Apple reporting that they sold 25 million iPads worldwide in 2011, and 3 million new iPads since their release just three days ago, plus the doubling of smartphone purchases since 2009, it is clear that the public’s thirst for news on a mobile platform will only increase in the future.
Pew surveyed 3,000 Americans and found that while 54% get their news from a desktop or laptop computer, the number of people using at least two devices — desktop/laptop computer, smartphone, or tablet — to get news now stands at 23% and growing.
The survey also found that 51% of smartphone users and 56% of tablet owners use their respective devices to get news, and that number is bound to grow as consumers continue to purchase these devices at a rapid rate.
This rapid adoption of digital news is both a blessing and a curse for the newspaper industry.
The blessing is that the move to online or mobile news has increased Americans’ overall appetite for news. The curse is that they want it for free and have been largely unwilling to pay for it, with few exceptions.
Newspapers have invested millions of dollars in redesigning their websites, adding online staff, building apps for mobile devices and using social media in an attempt to lure eyeballs to their sites. They had hoped to pay for this with digital ad revenue, but significant growth in this area has proven elusive, and the online operations remain mostly unprofitable.
But newspapers can’t ignore mobile. As Pew discovered, use of mobile devices to obtain news has increased traffic to five of the largest newspapers’ websites by 7.6%-11.2%.
In an industry that has shrunk 43% since 2000, any growth should be good growth, but not if it isn’t profitable and only winds up accelerating the decline of the industry as a whole financially.
Now back to my iPad to read the news.