Monthly Archives: October 2012

What Is The Future Of Mobile News?

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The transition to mobile technology has moved faster than most predicted, with more than half of US adults now having web access through a smartphone or tablet. This advance is going to have major implications for how news content is consumed and paid for.  Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism and the Economist have observed that 22% of US adults now regularly use a tablet, and that almost a quarter of those who don’t have a tablet, plan to get one in the next 6 months (23%). The number of adults with a smartphone is up to 44% from 35% in May 2011.

What’s important in this context is that 64% of tablet owners and 62% of smartphone owners say they use the device for news at least once a week. This is pretty much tied with other activities like email and game playing on tablets, and is behind only email on smartphones. What’s also interesting is that they are not necessarily replacing the news they were originally getting, but adding new sources (33%) and also consuming more (40%).

A few other gems of information from the report:

  • Only 52% of tablet owners now report owning an iPad, compared with 81% in 2011. Almost half, 48% own android based devices, 21% of which are Kindles. iPad owners do use their devices more often, and more often for news. Android users are more likely to use social networks.
  • People who get their news on tablets and smartphones are high appeal targets for organizations because they tend to be more engaged than users who get their news on just one device, and they are more likely to read in-depth articles. Dual-device users are also more likely than others to have paid for news content.
  • Tablet news consumers how get news more than one time during the day are twice a likely as those who get news once a day to have paid for news on their tablet (10% vs 4%).
  • 19% of mobile news users have paid for a digital news subscription of some kind in the last year, and a third of tablet news users with digital subscriptions have added new subscriptions since getting their device. Of these mobile news users, 31% have print-only subscriptions, and prefer a traditional reading experience rather than high-tech features.
  • People notice ads on mobile devices and may even be more likely to click on them than they are on other digital ads. Half of mobile news users (49% of tablet, 50% of smartphone users) sometimes or often notice ads when they are getting news on their device. Around 15% click on ads when getting news on one of the mobile devices and 7% actually buy something. While these are low, they actually outpace other digital click-through rates. In comparison, browser based ads have less than a 1% click through.
  • Users are leaning towards the browser and away from apps for news consumption. 60% of tablet news users use the browser more than apps. Only 23% get news fromly through apps, and 16% use both equally. In 2011, 40% got news through the browser and 21% through apps, and 31% used both equally. Those who use apps and the browser, are much more engaged.
  • Contrary to our last blog post, for news it appears the post-PC era has not necessarily arrived yet. But as we did mention in that post, it’s because the PC is used during work hours for news consumption. 41% of mobile users still get news on their laptop or PC, still prefer the conventional computer for doing so. Tablets rank second 25%, followed by print, and then the smartphone.


Source: Pew and

guys on couches with iPads

The End of an Era as PC Sales Decline For First Time In 11 years

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Sales of PCs, which includes notebooks, netbooks, and desktops are on the decline for the first time since 2001. This is a landmark moment and a harbinger of the future age of mobile. While sales of tablets and smartphones will increase rapidly, sales of PCs will stay the same or decline. Pew Research says:

Half of all U.S. adults now have a mobile connection to the web through either a smartphone or tablet, significantly more than a year ago

Access to the internet had been one of the major drivers of PC adoption because it was pretty much the only way to get on the net. Nowadays however, people have devices with them at all times that allow those same use cases. This ability to access the internet with the cheaper, easier, and more convenient form factors of mobile devices is causing the demand for PCs to decline. I really don’t see most people wanting to hunker down at a desktop or want to hunch over a laptop unless they are working.

The form factor of a tablet is much more desirable than a PC for someone watching TV or just hanging out on a couch. I find myself preferring my iPad to my laptop unless I am doing lots of writing or other input-heavy activities. An example of this is a situation occurred the other day with my roommate, a friend from out of town, and me. We were hanging out, chatting, and relaxing, in my living room, when I realized we were all on our iPads.

guys on couches with iPads

I find it hard to imagine that the same situation occurring where we would all be sitting on our laptops while hanging out. There is something about the way you handle a tablet, and the passive qualities of the experiences that are had on them that lends to their increased usage. When I think of laptops, I think of chargers and heat, which I do not associate with tablets at all.

A lot of people out there are looking at these numbers and blaming the dip on the economy and on the pending release of Windows 8, and while I think that may have some contribution to the decline in PC sales, this is really about a change in consumer behavior. The only thing the PC really has going for it is business usage.

Our office has 80 high-tech people working out of it, and I don’t see a single one of them using a tablet. Many use laptops (which count as PCs) with external monitors, wireless mouses and wireless keyboards. I personally am not going to trade a tablet in anytime soon for my work setup. I am writing this article right now on the setup pictured below:

27 -inch monitor, 24-inch vertical monitor, Kinesis Contoured Keyboard, and Evoulent Vertical Mouse along with my PC and it’s 16 gigs of ram and 4 tb of storage.

I am much more productive on this computer for inputting information than I am on a tablet or phone. Work situations seem to be one of the few instances where a PC is preferable to a tablet and I would bet that this stays true for a good amount of time. Typing on a real keyboard is, a lot faster than typing on a touch screen, hands down. My prediction is that any input heavy task like writing, design, and development will continue to be done on PCs for the foreseeable future while, passive and low input activities such as reading, social networking, and shopping continue to push the transition to mobile devices over PCs.

PCs are not going extinct, in fact no technology really ever goes extinct, but they will become more and more sparse, especially in the coming years as consumers start to own more than one size of tablet. It’s kind of sad to see the era of the PC transition out, but observing this changing trend is one of the main reasons NatMobi was founded and is what we are capitalizing on now and into the future.