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21 April, 2011 - Source: McCann Manchester

On a recent business trip, Sharon Palmer, Head of Media at Universal McCann Manchester, found herself in a curiously awkward position at breakfast time.

  • Sharon Palmer
    Sharon Palmer
On a recent business trip, Sharon Palmer Head of Media at Universal McCann Manchester, found herself in a curiously awkward position at breakfast time.
Do I simply eat alone staring into space trying to tune into the muffled conversations around me? Try juggling my knife and fork with one hand while negotiating to hold a newspaper? Feels awkward and clunky can we change? Or place my neat little iPad onto the table and download The Times while eating my breakfast with two hands?

Being an old-fashioned girl who built her career on print, it came to me at that moment that perhaps the death of newspapers in the print form was not only real but about to speed up. With the almost continual decline in readership of newspapers over recent years, would the birth of the easily digestible iPad and other similar tablet devices be the final nail in the coffin for one of the oldest media around?

On February 2nd, Apple and Rupert Murdoch launched the first digital only newspaper designed for use on the iPad only – the Daily. This breakthrough is hoped to change the face of journalism forever through a combination of reporting and technology.

The Daily is a mixture of the newfangled and the old-fashioned. It has whizzy graphics, including video and “360-degree” pictures. Sport fans can receive the ‘twitterings’ of their favourite players. Unlike most websites, though, the Daily is available only in America. It features outmoded things such as editorials and paid reporters. Although it can be updated to take in breaking news, it is primarily a daily, not an hourly.

The Daily will cost consumers 99 cents per week or 62p in our money - not bad value when you consider the enhanced digital experience against its rather flat print cousin. At £1 a day, it seems newsprint could be pricing itself out of the market.

It’s too early to say how successful the Daily will be but there’s sure to be a wave of ‘me too’ products – already there is talk of Richard Branson launching an iPad only Virgin magazine.

And even if it fails, there’s no denying consumers appetite for the tablet format, 4.8million were sold in the third quarter of 2010, which was a 45 per cent increase from the previous quarter. Retailers ran out of the iPad 2 within hours of it going on sale.
With demand for tablet formats high along with the opportunity to offer richer consumer experiences, the iPad seems like the ideal device to encourage consumers to pay for digital journalism. The stats back this up - 52 per cent of iPad users read a magazine or newspaper on their device every day, according to YouGov’s latest TabletTrack report.

There is no doubt that the platform offers advertisers an new opportunity but the industry continues to debate what that will look like and how big that opportunity is.

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