James Murdoch: Apps Threaten Newspapers


Rupert Murdoch may be bullish on tablet computers like iPads, but his son James isn't so sure they're good for the family business, which includes some of the world's best-known newspapers.

According to Reuters, the younger Murdoch told the Monaco Media Forum: "The problem with the apps is that they are much more directly cannibalistic of the print products than the Web site," simply because "people interact with it much more like they do with the traditional product."

While Murdoch didn't give any specific figures for the impact of tablet computers on newspapers owned by News Corp., it's not hard to imagine iPads and similar devices taking a bite out of print circulation. That's especially true among target audiences considered most desirable by advertisers -- for example young, well-heeled business professionals who read print newspapers while commuting.



Nonetheless, James Murdoch was enthusiastic about selling products through Apple's iTunes store, according to Reuters, noting that Apple has a better merchandising platform than the average neighborhood newsstand.

And there are plenty of reasons for publishers and advertisers to be optimistic about the iPad:

* A recent survey of people who owned iPads or other mobile devices by Nielsen found that 63% of iPad owners were under the age of 35 and 39% make $80,000 or more per year.

*iPad owners are more likely to be receptive to advertising, according to Nielsen, with 35% saying they "enjoy viewing ads" on their iPads, compared to just 17% for all other devices. Fifty-seven percent say they don't mind advertising if it means they get content for free, and 52% said they preferred ads that delivered custom information based on their current location.

A separate survey of 1,816 U.S. adults by the Harrison Group on behalf of Zinio, the digital magazine publisher, found that consumers who own tablet computers (including the iPad) or e-readers spend 50% more time reading magazines, on average, than people who don't own such a device.

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