According to the Magazine Publishers Association, 174.5 million people paid to subscribe to magazines in 1970; that number has steadily and consistently risen over the years, to 324.8 million as of 2008. Publishers, eager to fatten their rate bases (which ad pricing is based on) have been known to reduce subscription fees significantly and add other incentives to resubscribe in order to pump up circulation.
Magazines are just vertical collections of content that feed our individual interests. Like blogs. The trick for publishers will be to figure out how to be compensated for individual articles as well as for magazine subscriptions or paper book sales.
In a few years, more people will be browsing the Web via a tablet than on laptops and desktops. Steve Jobs pitched the new iPad as a better way to access the Web.
Apple's iPad was exactly what we all imagined it might be--a giant iPod Touch that does what we want it to do: browse the Web, display images and video in color and run downloadable apps that we can buy or sell. ABI Research predicts that some 58 million tablets a year will be shipping by 2015.
A great device is actually the key. When you've invested in a tablet (or an iPhone or a Droid or a Kindle, etc.) and love it, you want to increase its functionality--with media. That's why nearly half of the 75 million iPhone and iTouch users download one paid app a month, by the way, when they could get the same kind of stuff for free elsewhere. For example, you could download SoBabyBoomer blog life tip postings on the Kindle (delivered wirelessly) for a small monthly subscription fee from Amazon.com rather than reading this posting for free on your computer screen.
Steve Jobs proved with the first iPod that people would willingly pay for music when you made it easier to buy than to steal--especially when the media is linked via a store to a cool, fetishistic device.
Are tablets going to save the newspaper or magazine as we know it? Probably not.
However, I predict we won't see publishers dragging their feet as tablets take hold, because the potential revenue model is clear: Publishing companies will need to do more than simply port their print products to the new tablet-friendly formats. They'll need to be thinking about selling attention rather than the shape of the media. In the ever-burgeoning universe of media overload, content creators are battling for a user's time. If a book is a 20-hour call on one's attention, a magazine might be better defined as a bid for an hour and a blog posting 5 to 10 minutes.
The tablet is ideal for busy people on the move: a more portable, more visually interesting way to deliver news, articles and blog postings that can be constantly updated. Unlike the computer screen, a tablet might be able to create a sense where the reader takes a few relaxing minutes to read subject matter that he or she has a unique interest in (that has already been preselected, wirelessly delivered and awaits the reader's attention).
The interesting thing is that through the Kindle, I'm giving money to select blogs that I wish to follow for the first time ever. I can go on the Web to read the same content for free, but it's about the package and delivery that works for me. If you aren't experiencing this yourself, I predict you soon will be.
Source: FORTUNE, March 1, 2010