Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Prime time for iPad may be prime time

Just as video recorders let consumers time-shift their television viewing, the iPad may be encouraging users to do the same with news and other content, according to an intriguing – but unfortunately limited – new study.

The study was conducted by the company that makes an app called Read It Later, which lets users electronically earmark content for consumption at a more convenient time in the future.

After looking at when its users consumed 100 million earmarked articles, the company found that iPad use was heavily concentrated between 7 and 11 p.m.

As illustrated in the first graph below, users get a steady flow of news, information and other content from 8 a.m. until bedtime. But, as shown in the second chart, the users of this particular app tend to concentrate their reading in the after-dinner hours.

While these findings suggest interesting ways to release, package and market content for the iPad, it also must be noted that the research is limited to a sample of people who are sufficiently motivated to time-shift content to use this particular app.

Until someone researches consumption patterns across the entire universe of iPad owners, we won’t know whether this group of users is typical or exceptional.

If a broader study finds that prime time indeed is the prime time for iPad use, newspaper publishers may want to consider producing products that come out early in the evening, instead of in the morning or after their print products are put to bed at midnight.

Fresh news timed to arrive at dinnertime would be an interesting blast from the past for those of us who once worked on afternoon newspapers.


Blogger Brian S Hall said...

Somewhat surprising. A direct assault on television networks, I wonder?
Hopefully we will get better data.

9:13 PM  
Blogger StL Doug said...

This actually makes perfect sense if you take into consideration the types of articles people are storing away. Most likely, they are long analytical or feature pieces that readers don't have time to consume during the day. In a sense, they are creating an evening newspaper.

I've used a similar service called Instapaper. I rarely used it on my iPhone, but it has become an essential app on my iPad. If I see a lengthy article on the Web that I don't have time to read at the moment, I just click a button on my browser and it loads a copy of the article on Instapaper's server. When I launch the app later in the day, it downloads the articles into my iPad. Once the articles are loaded, I don't even have to have WiFi access to read them.

Publishers should take note of this and utilize their new publishing tools accordingly.
Apps designed for smart phones should concentrate on quick, immediate stories. But apps for tablet computers should be more magazine-like and have ways readers can store stories, and attached ads, to read later.

10:35 PM  

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