Media executives around the world are holding their breath. Rupert Murdoch's bold and risky bet on the iPad is on the way. The ultimate hope: it will prove that the iPad is a viable platform for profitable content distribution. A big part of the 'profitable' part: paid content.
But media executives might not want to hold their breath for too long.
According to research firm Knowledge Networks, consumer expectations on
the iPad look a lot like consumer expectations on the internet.
Most traditional publishing executives have bought into the idea that digital is crucial to the success of their publications in the 21st century. But despite the fact that most of them are increasingly embracing and investing in digital, few are seeing the kind of results that would indicate good times are back again.
A new survey of 476 publishing industry professionals and 1,800 consumers conducted by Harrison Group sponsored by Zinio might just hint at why: publishers are simply blind to what consumers really want.
Is the iPad the future of media and publishing? Media moguls like Rupert Murdoch and Richard Branson think it is. As a result, they're making big bets on the iPad.
Another big name apparently has a lot of faith in Apple's tablet device too: the BBC. According to reports, it is planning to launch a version of iPlayer in the United States, and has chosen to roll it out on the iPad.
Is paid content the online future of the newspaper business? While there's plenty of discussion and debate on the subject, if you listen to enough newspaper executives, you might come away with the impression that they think it has to be.
But while many newspapers contemplate paid content and talk up their plans, The Financial Times has actually been executing a paid content strategy.
Publishers may be excited about revenue possibilities on the iPad, but as Time Inc. is learning, the iTunes store isn't always generous with media providers.
Apple encouraged the publisher to create iPad specific applications when the device launched this year, but according to MediaMemo, the company is currently preventing Time magazine from selling subscriptions through iTunes.
Apple's approach to subscriptions is one that could quickly hobble publishers' revenue prospects on the iPad.
It's no secret that social media and a subscription business model doesn't exactly go hand and hand. There's a reason that the world's most popular social media websites are free to use.
But just how difficult would it be for a company like Twitter to charge its users? According to the 2010 USC Annenberg Digital Future Study (PDF), zero percent of users polled indicated that they'd be willing to pay for Twitter. That makes finding a way for newspapers to charge for their websites look like a walk in the park.
Pierre Omidyar launched eBay before many of us were online, and before online shopping was a multi-billion dollar a year market. But blazing the trail of ecommerce may prove to be a much easier task for Omidyar than building paid online news properties.
Yesterday, the Omidyar launched the Honolulu Civil Beat, an online news publication designed to provide content and facilitate conversation around "the important issues facing Hawaii."
The Financial Times is lucky. It's in the minority of newspapers that
can legitimately claim to have found 'success' with an internet pay wall.
The company's subscribers pay upwards of $180 a year to access content
on the Financial Times' website, FT.com, which is behind one of the more
solid pay walls around.
But that pay wall isn't impervious; it may be coming down if you're a certain type of mobile internet user in certain geographic regions. That's because,
according to Business Insider, the Financial Times will soon launch an
initiative with Foursquare that will give some Foursquare users who check
into certain businesses in certain locations the ability to access
FT.com without a paid subscription.
Ken Fisher, the founder and editor-in-chief of popular online tech
publisher Ars Technica has a message to readers who use ad blockers:
you're killing us.
In an effort to defeat ad blockers, last Friday Ars experimented with a technique
designed to prevent Ars readers with ad blockers from viewing Ars
content. According to Fisher, the experiment was a success
"technologically" but not surprisingly, a "mixed bag" socially.
Reports have surfaced indicating that, after much internal discussion and debate, the New York Times is ready to announce its much talked-about subscription model.
According to sources who spoke with New York Magazine, the NYT has settled on a metered model under which NYT online content will remain free but after a certain number of views, users will be prompted to subscribe for further access.