Friday, December 10, 2010

Important first research on the news reading habits of iPad owners; RJI survey finds high customer satisfaction

The Reynolds Journalism Institute (RJI) at the University of Missouri published a study, the first part of a multi-year research project, that aims "to understand how Apple iPad users consume news content." The 20 question study, concluded in November, shows that iPad owners are very happy with their new devices, an important point to consider when media companies decide whether to develop for the platform, or else wait for an Android tablet market to mature.

photo courtesy of RJI
More than 1,600 iPad owners were survey in the study. Not surprisingly, the audience revealed was "predominantly well-educated, affluent men between the ages of 35 and 64 who tend to be early adopters". In fact, 80 percent of the respondents were male -- not good news for those publishers of women's titles. More than half had household incomes over $100,000, and nearly half bought their iPads pretty much at launch (April and May).

An astounding 93.6 percent of those surveyed rated their satisfaction as either very satisfied (70.2 percent) or somewhat satisfied (23.4 percent). (Comment: I will admit a certain level of disappointed with the iPad very early on, but grew more and more happy with the device as new apps appeared, and its primary use as a media consumption device became apparent.)

Here is the important findings for media professionals from the RJI study:
  • Newspaper apps were preferred over newspaper websites

  • 84.4 percent of users follow breaking news and current events with their iPads

  • iPad users tend to be those that more closely follow the news, in general, but once a user starts to use their tablets to consume the news the less they use print newspapers.
  • 931 respondents also subscribe to a print newspaper, but 58.1 percent of those subscribers of "printed newspapers and use their iPad at least an hour a day for news said they are very likely to cancel their print subscriptions within the next six months." Ten percent of those who say they do not currently subscribe to a newspaper had actually cancelled their print subscriptions and switched to reading the news on their tablets.
  • There is a lot of good stuff in this finding and I would strongly recommend reading the findings here. I'm sure I will be referring back to the report often.

    Finally, a big thank you to the the Digital Publishing Alliance who funded the project. This is what publishers need: real data to help them make their decisions. Thank you.