What Is The Future Of Mobile News?

By October 21, 2012 November 10th, 2012 No Comments

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