Monday, March 19, 2012

Pew's The State of the News Media 2012: tablet and smartphone ownership grows, but consumers still are using their computers during the day to access the news

More and more media outlets are now paying attention to the release of Pew's State of the News Media report, and that is definitely a good thing. I recommend spending some time with the report at your convenience – you can find the report here.

Each year The Pew Research Center's Project for Excellence in Journalism releases a fairly broad report that looks at the various segments of the media landscape in the U.S. While the report is supposed to be a snapshot at the world of journalism, those who probably benefit most are media executives looking for market

So I thought rather than rehash the report I'd try to find one simple take away for those media professionals involved in the New Media.

Much of the report recaps previous information such as the ad page reports for the newspaper and magazine industries taken from the various ad monitoring services. Both industries ended up with a disappointing 2010, though the newspaper industry's numbers are particularly alarming.
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The one thing I have found most interesting so far in the report are the raw numbers concerning tablet ownership contained in the areas focusing on digital.

According to Pew's report, the market penetration of the tablet stands at around 18 percent. While this may at first appear low, it is an incredible number knowing that the two year anniversary of the iPad launch in the U.S. in not for another two weeks. To reach this level of market penetration for one kind of device is an incredible achievement – last year's launch of the Kindle Fire certainly has contributed to the tablet's fast growth.

What this number will look like in next year's report may be the highlight everyone reports next year. My guess is that it will hit the 25 percent mark (or burst through it).

The Pew report seems to show that when it comes digital news consumption that the computer is still kind. But when you combine the ownership numbers with the comScore report (also contained in Pew's report) on when a news consumer uses their devices to access news you get a better picture of news consumption activity.

Here is the chart from the comScore report that shows that device owners use all their digital devices equally in the morning to access the news, but their computers more during the day, and their tablets and smartphones more in the evening:
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This tells me that most consumers are leaving their tablets at home right now, a trend that may over time change, but for now seems to be exactly what media executives have predicted. The tablet remains a leisure-time device.

This is probably good news for magazine and book publishers, but I think newspaper executives need to be cautious in thinking that their news products should mirror their websites – readers should continue to access those sites during the day using their computers. Therefore publishers need to be creating leisure-time products for the tablet, whether that is more magazine-styled products such as The Daily, or newly envisioned news products still probably needs to be tested.

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