An issue of a media magazine I wrote the lead story for just won a prize for front page of the year during the Nordic Media Festival in Bergen.
I had absolutely nothing to do with that front page but I love how it alludes to some of the paradoxes of the "tablet revolution", or at least the media's approach to it.
Because in some respects it's been a very old fashioned revolution to this point, for some media organisations almost a(n attempted) return to the olden days:
And from the actual story:
This issue was published in early autumn last year, at which time we were still speculating as to what this "revolution" would entail. The 10 page story features interviews with many of the usual suspects (well, at least to the readers of this blog), including Eirik Solheim (@eirikso ), Adam Tinworth ( @adders ), Alan Patrick ( @freecloud ), Jon Einar Sandvand ( @johnei ) , Eirik Newth ( @astronewth ) – and some reflections from INMAs tablet summit in Oxford last spring.
And now, 10 months on, a new issue of that same magazine is just out with another lead story of mine on how the market for (media) apps is evolving (I'll return to one of the key themes in a different post).
10 months on we're not really all that much wiser though.
We know a lot more about how people use tablets, but it's fair to say that the media industry is still some way off from cracking the tablet code – even though there's also some good stuff happening.
My gut reaction: tablets are in the same place that the web was in the mid- to late 90s: companies think that they can recreate the environment of the past, even as the tidal wave of change surfs towards them. While people were building brochure sites, the blogging revolution was getting underway. Look for the niche, techie, cool stuff happening on tablets, and you'll see the real face of the future.
Having said that, my media consumption has shifted heavily to my iPad.
Checking news there, mainly using Flipboard +VG and Aftenposten's iPad editions, is the first thing I do in the morning – before I get out of bed even, and my Google reader section of Flipboard has almost entirely replaced my newsreader (I still check Newsrac k, also for iPad, on occasion, but it's rare). During weekends, my iPad reading is more varied.
But even though I absolutely adore, and find myself thinking I couldn't live without, apps like Flipboard and Zine, some of the debates we're having about such apps reminds me a lot about those we had about RSS and newsreaders.
The two latter were going to change everything and outcompete mainstream media imminently, but lacking a decent business model they never did. Or at least haven't done so far. Apps such as Flipboard have many of the same challenges.
In fact, a recent study by City University's Neil Thurman shows that basically, readers are too lazy to take advantage of many such innovations:
New research from City University London reveals that the use of personalisation features has been growing at major news website in the UK and US. However, passive news personalisation ― which allows news websites to filter and recommend articles based on user browsing behaviour ― is outstripping active user customisation by a factor of three.