The Reynolds Journalism Institute has published the results of a research project on how Apple iPad users consume news content. The results refer to a first phase, based on a cross-sectional survey, conducted from September to November, of a multi-year project, the following phases to be in 2011. The respondents were 1,609, the majority of them (92%) located in the USA. The project is funded by the Digital Publishing Alliance.
The full results are going to be presented today, 10th December, at the RJI during the Fall 2010 Tablet/E-Reader Symposium and DPA Meeting, entitled "How are tablets changing the game for publishers?"
"Users are predominantly well-educated, affluent men between the ages of 35 and 64 who tend to be early adopters", the survey says. They tend to be very satisfied by the time they spent with iPad, which is usually (62%) more than an hour during a typical day and spread throughout the week (89%).
The research underlines that "Using the iPad to follow breaking news reports and current events is the most popular use for the device, with 84.4% of respondents saying this is one of their main uses. Next according to popularity: leisure reading of books, newspapers and magazines (81.5%); browsing the Web (80.8%); and e-mail (75.8%)."
Users who consume news on the iPad are more likely to do it using an app than on the newspaper's website. Even if users who consume news regularly do it across multiple media, the correlation between iPad news use and printed newspaper use is negative and statistically significant.
Crucially (and arguably unsurprisingly), the study found that app users tend to cancel their subscription to print when they switch to a digital one.
A positive iPad reading experience is influenced by age and traditional media habits: "For example, the older the users, the more likely they are to rate their reading experience on the iPad worse than their reading experience with printed newspapers and magazines."
Asked in an open-ended question about principal factors that influence users' decision to purchase newspaper subscription on the iPad, respondents answered low prices and ease to use.
Roger Fidler, who headed the project, says "publishers can see that the iPad and similar devices will be "an important new medium for newspapers and magazines" with several advantages compared to the Web. It allows for more visually rich and media-rich editorial and advertising presentations, more like print than the Web", Missourian reported.