Will e-Readers and Tablets Like the iPad Revolutionize Content Consumption?

Posted on January 29, 2010 by 15 Comments

Over the past few weeks (especially yesterday), there has been a lot of talk in journalism circles about new portable devices changing the way people don’t pay for consume  media content. While there is a lot to be excited about for content creators, these devices aren’t necessarily going to make people want to pay for content.

Journalism institutions and news media businesses need to be concerned about creating the kind of high-quality, engaging, shareable content that matters in today’s world, not how they can squeeze more money out of old-format content.

Time Inc. seems to understand this. A while back, the company released an awesome conceptual video of its content modified for a touch-screen tablet experience.

YouTube Preview Image

Sports Illustrated (and likely many other Time publications) know that money can be made in offering readers an excellent overall content experience.

Sports Illustrated always has great content, but this concept video shows that SI can bring that content to life on a tablet-like device in ways that a normal browser can’t. On a good e-reader or tablet, content jumps off the screen in the form of photo galleries, embedded video and audio, sharing options, and ways to engage with other readers. Plus, it just feels natural to hold the content in your hands and interact with it using your fingers — like a book or magazine.

Getting people to use an excellent content experience isn’t the hard part; getting people to pay for the experience is the hard part. Content creators have to meet a few requirements to get anyone to pay:

  • You must provide top-notch, awesome content that nobody else has. And you have to provide it in a way that blows minds.
  • You must make it inexpensive and so easy to pay that people don’t even think about it (like buying iPhone apps).
  • You must make content shareable. You’re selling the experience, not the content. When paying customers share your content, think of it as free word-of-mouth marketing, not stealing.

Apple iPadMany musicians have learned that you’ll never stop people from freely sharing songs. People pass things along, and not everyone is paying for the content. The best way to capitalize on the popularity is to charge people for a superior experience, like a live show or private appearance.

Perhaps news organizations can do something similar by selling access to great content experiences and private chat sessions with content creators and newsmakers.

This approach alone likely won’t bring in enough revenue to sustain a news operation, but along with advertising and other creative revenue models, it can help.

What do you think? Can e-readers and tablets change the way content is experienced?

Image by mattbuchanan

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