Wed - 13.12.2017

Tablets: Talk of cannibalizing platforms is back

Tablets: Talk of cannibalizing platforms is back

Last week, just hours after News Limited announced it would launch iPad apps for two of its Australian tabloids, James Murdoch, CEO of News Corp. in Europe and Asia and son of News Ltd's owner Rupert Murdoch, said sales of newspaper apps were cannibalizing the print version of the dailies.

But before apps as we know them even existed, it was once thought that free websites cannibalized print newspapers. At the time, Rupert Murdoch was one of the loudest voices against free online content. Today he is putting complete paywalls around News Corp.'s UK sites, and

Image: Huffington Post
But last week, when James Murdoch voiced his opinions on apps, he also said free websites might not really cannibalize print after all.

"The problem with the apps is they're much more directly cannibalistic of the core print product than the website," he said at the Monaco Media Forum, according to our sister publication, "People interact with it much more like they do with the traditional product."

Reuters Blogs' Felix Salmon opined Friday that James Murdoch is likely only half right:

"There are some people who will directly replace a print subscription with a tablet subscription. Equally, however, there are surely also people who will find that a tablet subscription enhances the value they get from the physical newspaper, and increases their loyalty to it. Is the first group larger than the second? One thing we know for sure is that it's far too early to tell."

Poynter Online's Damon Kiesow further pointed out that less than 10 million iPads have been sold globally, and according to statistics from WAN-IFRA (of which this blog is part), 1.7 billion people read a print newspaper each day.

Although the ratio of tablets to print, as well as tablets to PCs, is still very small, pitting one platform against the other won't lead to solving revenue stream issues any time soon. Harnessing the strength of each platform - the engagement of tablets, the solitude and ability to concentrate and relax with print, the mobility and value-added services potential of mobile - with the most relevant content in order to better meet audiences' needs, just might.


Leah McBride Mensching


2010-11-15 22:57

Shaping the Future of the News Publishing

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