By 25 October 2011 | Categories: news


When the iPad first launched, large news corporations pinned their hopes on it to revitalise news consumption, particularly on newspapers that seemed to be losing readers almost as quickly as they were losing revenue. Their hopes, a new report suggests, has apparently paid off.

According to a survey done by the Pew Research Center's Project for Excellence in Journalism and The Economist Group, the majority of tablet owners use their tablets every day, and spend an average of 90 minutes on them.

The good news

The survey, which was done between 30 June and 31 July this year, stated that one of the most popular activities on the tablet is reading both headlines and longer form feature articles. This was only trumped by general web browsing.

Even more interesting is that 30% of the respondents indicated that they spent more time finding and reading news articles than they did before they owned the device. Additionally, a third (33%) of tablet users elaborated that they were relying on new sources for their news, which they had not explored on other platforms.

Long form features gaining popularity

Another notable finding was that while 42% were using their tablet to regularly read in-depth news articles and analysis. Tom Rosenstiel, director of the project and a lead author of the study, explained to CBC that this was a “big deal,” noting that previous research indicated that people were more averse to reading longer articles on other digital platforms such as notebooks, PCs and mobile phones.

CBC elaborated that out of 300 people who were asked online about their reading habits in the past week, 88% indicated that they read a long-form article during that time and 53%  replied that they did so at least once a day. The large majority (55%) stated a preference for reading longer articles on their tablets, while 22% preferred print magazines or newspapers, while 20% preferred desktop or notebook computers.

According to Rosenstiel, this was good evidence that users considered the tablet perfect for reading at leisure and in depth. Moreover, the study found that tablets were the preferred means of content consumption when compared to PCs, print publications or television.

Apps vs Internet

However, while apps were and are driving forces for a variety of functions on tablets, 40% of the respondents stated that they were obtaining their news from websites on their tablets, while 31% were using news apps and the browser equally to source news. 21% of those questioned preferred news apps.

Nonetheless, apps still have their place and their importance. The report suggested that tablet users who primarily rely on news apps are “the most avid consumers of news on tablets,” while reading news more heavily and in greater variety of ways.

The Tablet revolution continues

The report suggests that tablets genuinely are revolutionising the content consumption habits of users, not perhaps in the way that large corporations imagined they would, but nonetheless, breathing new life into both news consumption and in-depth exploration. In our view, that can only be a good thing.  

In recent news, Apple launched its new Newsstand app as part of the iOS 5 upgrade.



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