Tablet Users’ Content Habits


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What’s this?

A study funded by The Online Publishers Association tries to parse some consumer behavior patterns on tablets. Some of the findings: 61 percent of tablet owners have purchased some kind of content online; electronic magazines and books outsell electronic news content by more than twice as much; there is as yet little consensus about whether digital content should be sold on its own or bundled with other offline content, such as print subscription.

The survey also asked those tablet users who have actually purchased a digital newspaper or magazine subscription whether they preferred to get that content delivered via mobile-optimized Web sites or via apps. As it turns out, most prefer the mobile Web. This is the best bit, though:

“That result is remarkable, contradicting conventional wisdom that distributing native apps through app stores is the best way to get consumers to purchase content.”

What’s remarkable is that the OPA still considers it “conventional wisdom” for publications to distribute their content via apps, and not via the Web. I don’t want to say “I told you so,” but I did — eighteen months ago.

Here is the OPA study itself, and here is a summary of it at Poynter.

  1. Even someone whose tablet is a few pixels short of a full screen should now be able to clearly see that ‘apps,’ while a necessary evolutionary step, are nothing more than a temporary nuisance while the final code is written. We no more want to manage app updating than we wanted to edit a config.sys file when adding a Windows Program. The more complete code will use local RAM smartly, streaming code, caching it proportionate to demand, and updating it without user intervention. Users just want a URL… A thing, not a process. Hybrids always win.

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