A new study conducted by the Pew Research Center for Excellence in Journalism (PEJ) and the Economist Group revealed important insights about mobile users. In the latest report, the explosion in usage for mobile devices from a year ago indicates plenty of new and potential avenues to finance an industry that continues to struggle a profitable business model.
The study titled the “Future of Mobile News” surveyed 9,513 adults that included an additional 4,638 mobile device users. The study is a snap shot and offers comprehensive look at some of the latest trends within the mobile sphere. According to the press release, the study was the first of its kind and also the collaboration is a breakthrough effort; it examined the consumption habits from users that own popular products on the market (tablets, smartphones, etc.).
“Even with the broadening population and wide range of competing activities, mobile owners are drawn to news on their tablet and smartphones,” said PEJ deputy director Amy Mitchell. “The evidence is also mounting that mobile devices are adding to, rather than replacing, how much news people consume,” said Mitchell. In all, 43% of tablet news users say their tablets are adding to the amount of time they spend with the news and 31% say they are getting news from new sources they didn’t use before.”
The mass availability of the tablet computer has spawned a new kind of way to view, change interact and share the news. The growth from a year ago indicates a strong interest in keeping track of the news from a their own personal device, but how the news business ecosystem finances the operations or tries to creative a sustainable revenue stream in journalism is a work in progress.
The information extracted from the survey found the tablet ownership doubled from 11 percent to 22 percent. That number doubled from just a year ago and smartphones grew from 35 percent to 44 percent. In other words, almost half of the population sampled for this survey has mobile internet access.
“There are a variety of activities one can do on a mobile device today,” said Paul Rossi, managing director and executive vice president of The Economist Group, Americas. “However, even with all those options, reading is still one of the most popular activities. With more people than ever before using these devices, this clearly represents an incredible opportunity for publishers across the country.”
Below you will find a list of detailed findings gathered by PEJ and The Economist Group. The question remains what is the next big thing for financing journalism as the commercial enterprise gets replaced by an online platform of some sort.
• Just over half, 52%, of tablet owners report owning an iPad, compared with 81% a year ago. Fully 48% now own an Android-based device, including two in ten, 21%, who own a Kindle Fire.
• Rather than replacing old technology, the introduction of new devices and formats is creating a new kind of “multi-platform” news consumer. More than half, 54%, of tablet news users also get news on a smartphone; 77% also get news on a desktop/laptop and 50% get news in print. What’s more, 25% of get news on all four platforms.
• Those who get news throughout the day on their mobile devices are more engaged news consumers. People who get news on their devices multiple times per day, on either the smartphone or tablet, tend to turn to more sources, get news from new sources, read in-depth news articles, watch news videos and send and receive news through email or social networks. Tablet news consumers who get news more than one time during the day are also twice as likely as those who get news once a day to have paid for news on their tablet (10% versus 4%).
• There has been movement over the last year toward using the browser rather than apps for tablet news consumption. Fully 60% of tablet news users mainly use the browser to get news on their tablet, just 23% get news mostly through apps and 16% use both equally. In 2011, 40% got news mostly through a browser, 21% mostly through apps and 31% used both equally. But as was revealed in the 2011 survey, app news users—and those who use both apps and the browser equally—remain in many ways more engaged and deeper news users than those who mostly use their browser. The browser is preferred on the smartphone as well (61% get news mostly through a browser, 28% mostly through apps and 11% use both equally).
• Two distinct news audiences have emerged on tablets-new-found digital customers and those who originally turned to that outlet in print form and are still loyal to the print product. Nearly a fifth of mobile news users, 19%, 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 them since they acquired the device. But even more mobile news users, 31%, have print-only subscriptions, and three quarters of these have no plans to give them up. These print subscribers also prefer their app-based news to be more like a traditional reading experience rather than to have high-tech features. For the news organizations, this brings both the potential for new audiences as well as the challenge of accommodating the differing styles and approaches of these distinct audiences.
• A sizable percentage of people notice ads on mobile devices. Half of mobile news users-49% of tablet news users and 50% of smartphone news users-sometimes or often notice ads when they are getting news on their mobile device. But roughly 15% click on ads when getting news on one of the mobile devices and about 7% actually buy something.