Using the iPad to consume journalism is an exhilarating experience. It is, almost certainly, a game changer for the way media consumption will evolve.
Just as the internet revolutionised the paradigm of media useage more than a decade ago, imagining where this kind of light, portable, rich, instantaneous, bespoke iPadish platform could go feels very much like another Gutenberg moment.
But, for the future of newspapers and old media, it also feels very much like a Hindenburg moment.
All the hype bloviating from newspaper companies about how the iPad will secure their future seems so much like wishful thinking based on mindless logic, for these reasons:
- It is an internet device, which means that every free website is available on equal terms to every paid app or website on the iPad. Conclusion: there is no obvious advantage in charging for content on iPad devices.
- Advertising formats for the iPad have yet to evolve. Conclusion: there is no understanding of how or even whether advertising revenue (the lifeblood of print media profitability) will materialise on iPad devices.
- Advertising will be charged on a so-called CPM (cost per thousand) basis. Conclusion: because iPad advertising is measured like all internet advertising, advertisers will only pay for the eyeballs that view or respond to the ads, which means the currency of $50,000 print full pages or $100,000 30-second television commercials — which is what made old media owners rich — will never translate to these new platforms. Like the internet, an old old media advertising dollar will become a few cents in iPad advertising revenue.
The source of the financial success of almost old media media — television, radio, newspapers and magazines — has been built on a gigantic con job, which enabled them to charge extortionate ad rates without accountability or accurate measurability.
The internet blew the first big hole in that con job. Now iPad-like devices are set to complete the demolition.