NEW YORK – Today’s MPA Digital: Swipe event brought the consumer magazine industry together to focus on what’s next in tablet editions. Paul Verna, senior analyst with eMarketer, framed the conference with a number of stats and reflections on what has transpired in the tablet industry thus far, and what publishers can look forward to as it continues to grow.
By 2014, it’s estimated there will be 89.5 million tablets users in the United States; this represents 27.7 percent of the total population. These users will reportedly generate a content business worth $5.25 billion for the Kindle Fire (though Verna is quick to point out this number does not consist solely of magazine content).
Currently, the iPad (which sold over 3 million units of its third incarnation after its launch last week) makes up 83 percent of the U.S. tablet market. Apple’s tablet business also represents 20 percent of the company’s $9.15 billion revenue stream during the last fiscal quarter.
After the round of current and forecasted numbers, Verna addressed the struggles and opportunities now facing publishers in the digital space. He cited Bob Sauerberg, Conde Nast president, who said of the tablet space, “We have a $15 million business that came out of nowhere, that we didn’t have last year.”
Verna then cited Jann Wenner, famous for founding Rolling Stone and his hesitance to plunge into the digital world, who said, “People’s habits will shift, but you’re talking about a generation, maybe two generations, before the shift is decisive.”
Despite conflicting digital viewpoints, the Apple Newsstand is one facet of the tablet space participating publishers seem to be unanimously benefitting from. Future Publishing’s UK division saw a $1 million increase in new revenue after the Newsstand launch; publishers like Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, Bonnier and Hearst are seeing large sales numbers for back and single copy issues.
Verna briefly touched upon the e-commerce opportunity; not only in edit, but in advertising as well. A recent MPA data point that reports 59 percent of surveyed users would like to purchase directly from magazine ads in-app.
To close, Verna left the audience with a number of simple (in theory) takeaways:
• Think of tablets as a new medium – it’s not print, it’s not Web, it’s not mobile.
• Develop for all platforms, but if you must choose, iOS comes first, Android second.
• Your readers will migrate to tablets. Follow them.
• Digital monetization is challenging, but opportunities will increase as device adoption grows and audiences scale.
• Tablets will continue to get better, faster and cheaper. Print won’t.