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Mobile Devices: Can They Revive the Newspaper Industry?

April 19, 2012

You know if people spent as much time developing solutions to problems instead of complaints and half-baked studies their troubles could be solved much quicker.  The mobile market will not save journalism; journalism will save journalism and it will use mobile devices to do so.  Also, more than Apple devices will be used.  Yes, they were the first and yes, they are they biggest, but Apple does not comprise 100 percent of the electronics market; there are others out there who are trying.  People buy tablets and smart phones as well as iPads and iPhones.

Print-based mediums are dieing and will disappear in the next 10 years or so.  The average reader now wants their news in a digital format and on a platform that offers the flexibility for them to consume content whenever and wherever they choose.  So of course smart phones and tablets seem like the logical successor to current news mediums.  The biggest problem with this theory is that only a fraction of the market actually owns them.  Say what you want about newspapers being archaic and a waste of paper but at least they are cheap.  Go pick one up at a newsstand for a buck or go online and browse for free.  Some people just can’t justify committing to a lucrative data plan for a smart phone or investing several hundred dollars in a tablet that’s really only good for web-browsing and apps.

The other obstacle blocking the newspaper industry’s path to progress is the industry itself.  Here is a great product, mobile devices, with a new market that has an undetermined amount of potential and they squander their chance at redemption by releasing poor quality apps and content or release nothing at all.  That being said, everyone needs to lower their standards and let things take their course.  This is a new platform with different needs and functions that have not been fully explored yet and there is no chance that newspapers will get everything right in the first few years.  Some have to fail before progress is made.

Now the only ones who shouldn’t lower their expectations are journalists and newsgroups.  They have the most to gain and/or lose with the advent of this new field, but should also be excited that they are being presented with another medium with which to inform the masses.  If they are not, they why the hell are they in this field to begin with?

They have the benefit of hindsight this time around and, rather than releasing tons of free content on the Internet, now they will decide the best way to get every cent out of readers and advertisers.  If the 90s taught us anything it’s that you cannot simply make money by creating something with new technology.  If consumers are going to use it, and more importantly going to pay for it, then newspapers must give them a reason to care.

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