This report focuses on what has been learned so far about news consumption behaviors on Apple iPads from research conducted by the Reynolds Journalism Institute (RJI), The Associated Press, Online Publishers Association and Google’s AdMob subsidiary between July 2010 and June 2011. While competing devices are now making their way into the consumer marketplace, their numbers were insignificant compared to the iPad when this research was conducted.
With the iPad, Apple defined an entirely new category of electronic media. The iPad and comparable devices, now often referred to as “media tablets,” make consuming and engaging with all types of media simple, convenient, and enjoyable within a visually rich mobile environment. They have more in common with nearly instant on/off consumer appliances, smartphones, and e-readers than with technically challenging personal computers, netbooks, and pen-based tablet PCs. Media tablets also appear to have more in common with print media, which is why they have generated so much interest from newspaper and magazine publishers in the 14 months since the iPad’s debut in April 2010.
Several news organizations, including The New York Times, USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, and The Associated Press, have made their content available to download and read within iPad apps from the first day that iPads went on sale. In the ensuing months hundreds of news organizations from around the world have launched their own iPad news apps. In the same period, hundreds of technology enterprises and entrepreneurs have developed their own news apps for the iPad. Most of these apps aggregate content from multiple sources, such as websites, blogs, and twitter feeds, based on personal preferences.
Today, more than 25-million iPads and an estimated 5-million competing media tablets are in use globally. The Online Publishers Association (OPA) estimates that 23% of the U.S. Internet population, ages 8-64, will own or use a media tablet by early 2012. That represents an estimated 54-million U.S. consumers.
Most analysts are now forecasting that as many as 120-million iPads and 40-million other media tablets will be in use globally by the end of 2012. They also expect that by then more than 5,000 news apps along with several hundred thousand other apps will be available to use on media tablets.
Android tablet sales have been disappointing. None so far has generated the level of excitement generated by the iPad. Nearly all of the technology analysts are now predicting that Apple will continue to dominate the media tablet market for at least the next three years. According to a report recently released by comScore, the iPad now represents 97% of all Internet tablet traffic in the U.S. and 89% worldwide.