Why Won't Tablet Users Pay for News Content?

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You can get the tablet version of Time magazine on the iPad for $5 per issue--a massive $260 per year if you bought the digital issue every week. Or, you can subscribe to the magazine for $30 a year, which includes access to download the iPad editions as well.

This is counter-intuitive and short-sighted. I only really want to read the digital version on my iPad, but I would obviously rather not spend almost ten times as much money to get the same information. Time would rather cut down trees, print magazines, and waste money shipping it to my house just so I can throw it away and read the content on my iPad for a reasonable fee.

The Wired app is great, but costs too much without the print subscription.
The logic behind this has to do with outdated thinking. Magazines and newspapers charge for advertising based on the number of subscribers to the print edition, and the print edition is still where most of the advertising is done. News publications and advertisers need to adapt and figure out how to transition that entire model to the digital age.

Time should offer a digital-only subscription for $25--or even $20. Time could still count me as a subscriber, and the digital edition of the magazine can still show ads--better, more interactive ads that are more likely to result in action on the part of the reader. Even better, Time would get to keep most of that money because it wouldn't be wasting it on paper, printing, shipping, and other wasteful costs associated with sending me the print edition.

Tablets represent a growing segment, but they are just one facet of the larger issue of delivering news and generating revenue with digital journalism. The combination of mobile devices--smartphones and tablets--and social networks like Facebook and Twitter have completely altered the way people get, consume, and share information, and traditional print media needs to adapt or get left behind.

I don't agree that users are unwilling to pay for news. I think users are unwilling to pay to receive a print publication they don't want just for the privilege of accessing the same information digitally. I also think users expect the digital news to take advantage of the capabilities of devices like tablets and not simply copy and paste the print news into an app.

There are traditional print resources, like Time, that have awesome apps that embrace the unique features of the iPad. The articles are more engaging and interactive, and link to additional content that can expand my understanding of the topic.

It is a step in the right direction, and the apps are definitely worth paying for. They just need to find a way to deliver the app content at a reasonable cost that doesn't include forcing users to also subscribe to the print edition.

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