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Print vs. Tablet Custom Mobile App Development And Evolving Business Models


LinkedIn Industry Trends recently published an article which will impact the debate on print vs. tablet custom mobile app development. This is arguably a trend that will forever transform the publishing industry.

The below graph discusses shrinking and growing industries. If you look at the graph you can see that at the second position we have online publishing, and at the bottom we have newspapers. The LinkedIn findings tell us a story that cannot be ignored by publishing companies or custom mobile app development firms. In a parallel survey done by Adobe, it was found that Tablet-magazine readers are engaged, have longer attention span, and most importantly, actually pay for content. In this edition, we examine the business models that are influencing the shift of publishing from print to tablet publishing.

Linkedin Industry Trends

Linkedin Industry Trends

Traditionally, print media enjoyed high-margin monopolies which could not be challenged, even by interactive media like television. However, with the advent of internet, and rapid advancement in mobile and tablet space, the equations started changing rapidly, forcing even the hardcore print loyalists to consider internet and mobile as mainstream publishing channels.

Business Landscape: Print Vs Mobile Custom Mobile App Development

What are the key factors threatening print? Dwindling subscriber bases, huge advertising shifts to digital media from print, spiraling printing and shipping cost, and the changing preferences of the readers are creating unprecedented challenges to the print media. According to the data studied by LinkedIn, the professional social network, the newspaper industry experienced a 28.4 percent shrink rate between 2007 and 2011. This is a remarkable change. In contrast, new-media companies recorded an incredible 24.3 percent gain, coming in only behind the Internet.

Why digital publications are thriving financially while the newspapers are dying is a widely discussed topic even today. In this post, we want to examine some of the factors contributing to the decline of print and thumbing success of new media publishing companies especially tablet publishing.

Print vs Mobile Publishing – The business models

The key difference between traditional and digital publication is that while print publications makes money on distribution of media, its online counterpart receives money for the consumption of media. In a distribution driven business model, the company receives its money whether or not consumers consume the content. In the consumption model which drives the digital publishing growth, you are paid for only what people actually consume.

Having pointed out this key difference, we will now elaborate.

Print revenue streams are largely limited to subscription and advertising revenue. In such a model, the biggest threat now comes from online space which offers free content. When people have free access to content, they are reluctant to pay. Traditionally print enjoyed unchallenged monopoly because people had no choices. But now people are powered with quick and free access to vast information via mobiles and internet. This has resulted in a huge shift of reader base from print to online and mobile, and this is important for custom mobile app development firms to understand.

The advertising on print is much less powerful than digital counterparts as there is little scope for interactivity and targeting. The total advertising budget is becoming fragmented across multiple properties including social media, blogs, aggregators and other services, which has resulted in a sharp decline of print ad revenue.

The standard format of the print is also a bottleneck as the readers are getting more used to small screens and digital devices. The attention span of people on print is much lower than on digital and mobile. According to Lynly Schambers-Lenox, group product marketing, digital publishing, Adobe, the latest metrics across hundreds of magazine apps show that people are reading contents on tablets potentially more than they are in print. She says that across publishers, titles and content types Adobe has seen time spent in apps rise 70% in just the last 6 months. “56% of readers spend between 25 and 150 minutes per month consuming content in an application,” she says.

Compared to operational costs, print industry has no much innovative options to increase their revenue. This is why many experts feel that tablets are going to be the future of publishing industry. The increasing popularity and declining price of smart phones and tablets are shifting the reader base from print. IDC projects that there will be over 106 million tablets shipped in 2012, up from its previous forecast of nearly 88 million.

Given the vast possibilities for targeting, analytics and interactivity, mobile and tablet offers lucrative and flexible business models. Unlike print, it is user driven, so engagement becomes the key driver. In the tablet publishing, different revenue options can be embedded into the publishing without spamming the readers with irrelevant ads or information.

Some of the popular models in the tablet space:

Paid Content – Personalized, user demanded content can be delivered based on subscription. The model can be highly successful in delivering targeted and personalized experience to the readers. In case of mobile, real-time user analytics is available and the content can be very much tailored to deliver highly personalized experience to the readers.

Advertising: Tablets and mobiles enable tracking and measuring the reader feedback and responses.  This helps to deliver advertisers enhanced and guaranteed results and higher conversion rates while offering highly relevant offers to readers. Ad funded models can help in offering free content to readers while giving advertisers access to very targeted customer base.

Partnering on Product Development – Selling content products and services, instead of just the content itself, can provide a revenue stream for the publisher.

Affiliate Partnership – Publishing companies can generate incremental revenue by incorporating their links to related services within the content

Value-Add Services – Offer free content that drives sales of paid services or products, therefore making it more useful or appealing to the audience.

Branded apps: Branded apps for tablets and smart phones help publishers attract more interest from the readers than the print publications. Moreover it allows them to partner with other brands as sole sponsors.

Though the popularity of tablet editions are increasing, publishers are yet struggling to monetize it because of their lack of familiarity with different models and knowledge about the genre of digital readers. Many publishers try to duplicate print format for digital audience which leads to failure. Tablets and mobile are different from print and hence the approach should also be very specific to cater to unique expectations and trends that are evolving on digital space. The digital space is also quickly evolving, particularly because of the innovation occurring from custom mobile app development firms. Publishing is at an inflection point. If publishers fail to adapt quickly enough, they might lose the opportunity forever.

Paul Joseph
Head of Media and Entertainment

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