Study: Tablet Users Love to Read the News, Still Reluctant to Pay for It


Consuming news ranks, according to a new study conducted by the Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism, among the most popular things adults in the U.S. do with their tablets. Reading news sites and watching news-related video is about as popular as sending and receiving email, for example, and more popular than using social networking services. As the news industry struggles to find viable business models in this new world, though, one number that stands out is the fact that only 14% of U.S. adults have paid for news directly on their tablets.

According to this report, though, 23% of users also have “a subscription to a print newspaper or magazine that they say includes digital access.” This brings the total number of those who have paid access to news on their tablets to over 30% (assuming there is some overlap here, too). Only 21% of respondents were willing to pay $5 for news access, though, and 10% would pay $10.

Apps vs Browsers | Project for Excellence in Journalism  PEJ

It’s worth noting, though, that this data was gathered before the launch of iOS5. Some early data suggests that the Newsstand feature Apple built into its new operating system could boost sales for news-related apps. It remains to be seen if this is a real trend or just driven by curiosity as users try out this new feature, though.

More Data About Tablet Users

According to the Pew study, about 11% of all U.S. adults now own “some kind of tablet.” More than 80% of those who owned tablets said they owned an iPad, by the way. 2% didn’t know the brand of their tablet.

Other interesting data points: [list]

  • tablet users tend to be more highly educated and have a higher household income than U.S. adults overall
  • tablet users consume more news than the average U.S. adult and prefers reading news over watching it
  • only 21% of users mostly use apps to consume news.
  • those who download a specific news app mostly do so because they like the brand of the news organization (84%) and aren’t deterred by negative reviews [/list]

The Pew team put together a handy infographic with all the main data points from this study:


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4:36 pm

Android Tablets: Hardware is Great, OS is Getting Better, but Apps are Still MIA


When it comes to tablets, the iPad is still synonymous with the whole tablet category for most users. This doesn’t come as a surprise, though, given that it took Google’s partners quite a while to launch competitive hardware and Google’s first efforts to launch a tablet version of Android were not up to par with Apple’s iOS. For the most part, though, the forthcoming Android 3.1 and 4.0 releases will take care of most of these software issues, however, and with the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1, Android tablet hardware is now also getting to the point where it’s competitive with Apple’s iPad line.What is missing, however, is the wide variety of apps that makes Apple’s ecosystem so vibrant.

The Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1

galaxy_tab_sidewaysThis is not a hardware review, but as others have pointed out before, the Tab 10.1 (which Google gave to all of the attendees at its developer conference last week – including this writer) is both lighter and thinner than the iPad, has a great screen (though it’s 16:9 widescreen takes some getting used to) and generally feels very solid. Other Android tablets from a variety of manufacturers will launch this year and chances are that quite a few of them will rival Samsung’s latest tablet in terms of build quality and speed.

Android’s Weak Spot on the Tablet: Apps

There is one area, though, where Android simply can’t compete with Apple yet: apps. One the phone, this is actually a minor problem at this point, but when it comes to tablets, Google doesn’t even offer the ability to just show tablet-ready apps in its marketplace. The apps that are available, whether they are news apps from CNN and USA Today, weather apps from the Weather Channel and WeatherBug, or e-book apps from Amazon and Barnes & Noble, can easily compete with their brethren on the iPad.

But there are no magazine apps worth writing about, Twitter’s and Facebook’s regular Android apps run fine on the tablet, but are just large versions of the phone app (which is true for virtually all non-Honeycomb specific apps). Indeed, just finding tablet-ready apps is a major pain as the Android Marketplace will happily show you a list of featured tablet apps but doesn’t make it easy to filter regular search results by screen size.


Another Weak Spot: Built-In Browser

It’s worth noting that there are plenty of alternative browsers that work well on the tablet, including those from Mozilla and Opera, but the built-in browser is just not up to par when compared to Safari on the iPad. It’s actually quite fast, but often has issues rendering complex pages and while support for Flash is a nice thing to have, Flash video playback is sometimes choppy or cuts out altogether. For a company that makes Chrome – arguably the best browser on the market today – this browser on the tablet is a bit of an embarrassment. Thankfully, Android is open enough to allow you to run whatever browser you want, though, but this problem shows that there are still quite a few areas in Honeycomb that need polish.

Would You Buy a Tablet that Only Has 100 Apps?

android_marketThat said, though, I’ve used the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 exclusively for a few days now and it’s definitely growing on me. Android’s support for desktop widgets, easy sync with other Google services and smart notifications (one of the areas where Android always beat Apple) already show that the Android OS can best Apple in some areas.

With regards to the hardware, the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 is the first really iPad challenger. If you decide to buy a Motorola Xoom today or the Tab 10.1 when it’s released next month, you are, however, placing a bet on the fact that enough developers and publishers will also bet on Android as a tablet platform.

Given how far Android has come in the short time it’s been on the market, I wouldn’t bet against it – especially now that those 5,000 developers who attended Google I/O have a tablet in hand.

Disclaimer: Google provided free Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 tablets to all Google I/O attendees, including members of the press.

3:45 pm

Google Earth for Android Tablets Gets 3D Buildings


Google today launched a major update of Google Earth for Android tablets and phones. This new version, which requires Android 2.1 for phones and Android 3.0 for tablets, is highly optimized for tablets. For Android phone users, there isn’t too much new here, but tablet users will now be able to see textured 3D buildings and get easier access to features like Places, Panoramio photos and Wikipedia articles.

The tablet-optimized interface looks nice, but the real star of this new version is obviously the addition of 3D buildings. Google has been stressing this feature of Google Earth on the desktop for quite a while now, by, for example, offering various cities in 3D already, launching a Building Maker that allows users to easily model buildings themselves and hosting a competition that encouraged communities in the U.S. to model their own town with Google’s tools.

Google Earth for iPad currently does not offer 3D buildings, but chances are that Google will bring this to iOS devices in the near future, too.


10:35 am

Opera Previews Touch-Optimized Browser for Tablets and Netbooks


Opera, the Norwegian browser developer, just announced a touch-optimized version of its browser that it will demo at CES. This new browser, which is optimized for tablets and netbooks with touchscreens. In its demo, Opera is showing off a first demo of the software on an Android device.

Details about the new browser are quite sparse and the demo doesn’t offer any additional details, but it’s good to see that the company is investing in this market as well. Opera already has lots of expertise in developing for touch-enabled phones, so making the move to tablets is a logical next step.

According to Christen Krogh, the company’s chief development officer, “In 2011, tablets are a new must-have. […] Opera for tablets brings the same trusted Internet experience to tablets and netbook PCs as users have come to love on their mobile phones and desktops.”

Opera has been through somewhat of a renaissance in the last year.

11:40 am