Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Pew survey shows growth of the tablet market; study looks at news consumption by tablet owners and compares the use of media apps to browser usage

Pew has issued an interesting new study of news consumption on tablets (which pretty much means iPads), and while the data is extremely important for publishers to understand, I'm not sure I agree with parts of Pew's own interpretation of that data.

The study, conducted by the Pew Research Center's Project for Excellence in Journalism in collaboration with The Economist Group, found that a year and a half after the introduction of the iPad, 11 percent of U.S. adults now owns a tablet of some kind. Not surprisingly users are using their tablets to consume the news.

But while Pew questions whether they are using apps versus the browser to access news content, the actual survey found that 52 percent said they were, in fact, reading the news through an app, just not exclusively through apps.

Pew also found that tablet owners were hesitant to pay for news content. But since the survey found that 40 percent used the Safari browser exclusively to access news content, it shouldn't be surprising that this audience - used to getting their content free of charge - would say that aren't willing to pay for access.

Especially knowing that the survey took place prior to the launch of Newsstand, I'm more optimistic about the public's willingness to pay for digital - especially since Pew found that brand was an extremely important influencer in determining what content to access. Additionally, news consumption is often a surfing activity. But in-depth news consumption, for instance through news magazines, is more of a leisure time activity, and therefore more likely to be possibly consumed through a branded app.

These surveys are incredibly important, but jumping to conclusions based on one survey may be a mistake. But Pew continues to do incredibly important work for publishers in understanding the impact of tablets on their businesses.