Apple reported today that iPad tablet sales passed 11.4 million during its fiscal third quarter, up 15 percent from the same period a year ago. For newsrooms globally, time to take note of this development and not give up on the tablet yet.
Interesting, and not surprising, to read that Apple’s iPad has just had its first growth quarter in more than three years.
Interesting because, depending on which newsroom and market I visit for my consulting work, I hear different versions of the role that tablets in general, and the iPad specifically, play as part of the media quintet.
Nor surprising, because in all of these markets, iPads seem to have a role, especially with older readers.
That is why I am delighted to hear that iPad sales were up 15% year over year, with sales passing 11.4 million during its fiscal third quarter, up 15 percent from the same period a year ago.
The last time Apple posted year-over-year iPad growth was more than three years ago — the holiday quarter of 2013, when Apple sold a record 26 million iPads.
I notice that the 55+ and older readers do like their tablets, use them to read newspapers and books and find them as perfect companions for a variety of other tasks beyond consuming news. The new iPad Pro, which I own, is also very popular and, for me, it is not just my newspaper/magazine reading platform (when I am not on the phone), but also my portable TV, which I take to bed, to my airline seat and even under the beach umbrella. Can’t beat that for convenience.
I do admit, however, that I am using my iPhone more and even found myself reading a chapter of the novel I am currently enjoying (The Gilded Life of Matilda Duplaine, by Alex Brunkhorst) while riding the subway. I definitely prefer to read on my tablet, but the iPhone is what was handy at the time.
Well, for one thing, it is a way for older readers to make type bigger as they read. It is also quite popular with audiences who like to read e-papers, or to check out pdf versions of the printed newspaper on a platform that is portable and allows for easier reading.
When the iPad first appeared in 2010 I admit that its success with newspapers and magazine readers would be greater. Real big, smashing success did not take place, although it did hit the spot with perhaps 20% of the audiences, who still hold it dear and prefer it.
The first newspaper created for the tablet, The Daily, with the backing of the Rupert Murdoch’s group, discontinued publication after less than a year.
In some cases, as in Montreal’s La Presse+, the tablet determined the future direction of a media company. The La Presse team discontinued its print edition daily (only prints weekends) and has a successful daily tablet edition.
Overall, however, in my own consulting experience, the tablet, even in 2017, is not the key platform that executives wish to concentrate their efforts on—those efforts are directed to the tablet’s main competitor, the phone, which, with larger screens, is the mini tablet of preference.
Yet, there are markets where tablets thrive, especially for e-papers (think Scandinavia, Germany, the UK, for example), and others where it has not become as popular (think Latin America).
I do see a future for the tablets and hope that those executives that I work with will agree and will include the tablet among its platforms for the creation of new products.
–I wish more newsrooms would adopt an earlier closing time for the printed newspaper (let’s say 8 pm as opposed to midnight), thus allowing for the pdfs of pages of the printed daily to go into a tablet edition that readers can read before they go to bed.
–I see the tablet as the most immediate replacement of print editions, especially for Monday-Friday, when printing an edition is no longer financially feasible. Simply prepare the newspaper for printing, and stop short of doing that, but put those pages into your evening tablet edition. Many newspapers already experiment with this approach several times a year, during holidays, for example, when they do not print the paper. We see a sample of an enhanced e-paper edition here.
–Create the dynamics of a strong lean forward edition (phones) with a robust lean back edition (tablets).
When print is no longer the way to go Monday thru Friday, the phone/tablet combination can provide newsrooms with 24-hour cycles of information that adapt to the needs and lifestyle of the audience.
La Presse+: A Tablet Edition Success Story in Montreal.
La Presse+: A Success story, part 2—the concept and the technology
La Presse+ tablet edition gets a 30% rise in readership since axing weekday print edition