Sunday, May 30, 2010

How iPad may make the future of newspapers a different story

The iPad goes on sale in Britain for the first time today, with many in the newspaper industry backing it to change journalism.

The Apple device, which has already sold more than 1 million in the US, has been much anticipated in Britain. Hundreds of thousands of people are thought to have placed orders.

Many media organisations think that it will give them the opportunity to correct past mistakes with online journalism, allowing them to charge customers for content and in return provide an enriched experience more compelling and interactive than printed newspapers.

The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and Financial Times already offer iPad applications that allow users to play games, read books and navigate maps.

The Times also intends to introduce its own iPad app for a monthly subscription. This newspaper and The Sunday Times launched new websites this week, and have announced that they will begin charging for the online editions of newspapers. From next month, users will be offered a week's subscription for £2, or a day's access for £1, to two new sites — and

News Corporation, the parent company of The Times, said that the the introduction of paid-for digital editions of its newspapers was essential to get a fair price for its journalism, with the present strategy of giving away articles free on the internet unsustainable.

Sceptics, such as Alan Rusbridger, Editor of The Guardian, have argued that revenues from online advertising will be enough to sustain quality journalism in the long term.

Many experts have been impressed with the iPad's ability to display news in a new, and possibly valuable, way. "I think it will provide an experience that is unprecedented in the print world, but also on the web," Paolo Pescatore, an analyst from CCS Insight, said. "Even the early iPad apps give a higher level of engagement than any other platform today."

Others claim that iPad newspaper apps are only part of the solution, as titles try to find ways to make new revenues as sales of print editions fall.

"It's interesting, it's pretty, it has lots of advantages for news," Benedict Evans, from Enders Analysis, said. "But 10 million pay for a daily newspaper in the UK. They spend roughly £30 a month each. There will not be 10 million people spending £30 a month on the iPad any time soon."

Figures from Ipsos MediaCT showed that many potential iPad owners would access news through the device. The survey indicated that 45 per cent would be interested in using the device to view news through websites, with almost three in ten using newspaper applications.

Queues are expected at Apple's 27 stores and other authorised stockists, with the device available only on a first-come, first-served basis from 8am.

Jake Lee, 17, from Theydon Bois, Essex, was the first in line outside Apple's store in Regent Street, Central London, arriving at noon yesterday. He could have ordered the device in advance, but said: "I just came down for the atmosphere, and I don't think I could have waited. I'm a gadget lover."

However, he will not be able to claim that he is the first in Britain to get an iPad. Hundreds reported on Twitter that they had received one a day early.

One user said: "My iPad has just arrived (1 day early). UPS delivery guy says he's delivering lots today. I get the impression his van is full of them."

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