Don't count on the imminent launch of the Apple tablet, or any tablet device for that matter, to save newspapers. So says Gartner analyst Allen Weiner in a recent analysis tempering high hopes about the tablet as the instrument of a newspaper industry revival.
For one thing, he argues there's no evidence people will pay for newspaper apps. He points out that the top 10 paid apps on iTunes show games and entertainment but no content. And if newspapers simply port existing smartphones apps to tablet computers, they'll fail to seize the opportunity.
Apple's secret testing of the tablet revealed yesterday by Flurry suggests the company has bigger plans for the device beyond just playing games. While games and entertainment apps were indeed the most common type of app Apple is testing, news and books as a category was a close third to entertainment. That led Flurry to surmise the tablet will be geared to daily media consumption.
Weiner also says consumers won't pay for a tablet, apps and a data fee. "With carrier subsidies, consumers will have to pay wireless data plans which, in some cases, may either duplicate service plans or add another provider to a consumer's monthly mix," he wrote.
In a recent survey, electronics site Retrevo found 44% of consumers wouldn't buy an Apple tablet if it required a monthly data fee and 70% said they wouldn't pay more than $700 for the device.
The Gartner analyst also splashes cold water on optimism about big newspapers like The New York Times reportedly talking with Apple about releasing a tablet-friendly edition. "Smaller newspapers do not have the resources to take on the development required to create 'killer apps' for new devices," points out Weiner. Nor can they target a national audience. So local and regional newspapers would still be left out in the cold. Of course, if the tablet is a dud, they won't be missing out on anything anyway.