Does the 3G iPhone Sound the Death Knell for Newspapers and Magazines?
Yesterday at 5:20pm UK time (11:20am West Coast time) I sat watching a video image on an iPhone screen waiting to hear Steve Jobs announce the new, well, iPhone.
Amongst the geek community it has been one of the most eagerly awaited announcements of the last few years.
Rumours and discussions have been at fever pitch and now it was the moment of truth.
Mr Jobs didn’t disappoint.
The new 3G iPhone had everything the analysts had predicted … 3G for fast internet browsing, GPS for satellite navigation, a shiny new design and maybe most importantly a big drop in price (two models – 8GB $199 and 16GB $299)
I can hear the traditional publishers around the world stifling their yawns; after all why should they care about just another mobile phone?
It was ironic that amongst the audience watching the announcement I recognised a journalist from a technology magazine. I quickly flipped to his magazine’s website to see if he was providing a live update from the event. Instead I was greeted by a big promotional banner which read “The 3G iPhone – Full Report in our August Edition”. August! It’s the 9th June today!
As someone with a foot in both camps, I keep a close eye on the publishing and technology sectors.
Some of the things that Steve Jobs made me think about both at the same time.
One of his most striking observations was that on normal mobile phones (which have internet access) only 16% of users regularly go onto the web. On the iPhone the number rises to 98%.
Anyone who has tried web surfing on a normal phone, will understand why. The experience is slow, difficult and unsatisfying..
On the other hand anyone who has accessed the web on the iPhone will know how easy, fast(ish) and enjoyable it is.
Suddenly mobile surfing has become pleasurable AND affordable.
So is this the death knell for print?
Of course not, but it does weaken one of print publishings strongest arguments … portability; people buy magazines and newspapers because they can read them wherever they like.
Whilst the iPhone alone will not destroy any industry, I believe it has the ability to fundamentally change users behaviour...and that can change industries.
Most places that you can read a print publication you can now browse the web and get the information you are looking for. With the iPhone this has suddenly become simple and pleasurable.
I expect I'm fairly typical in that I mainly buy magazines and newspapers when I’m travelling by plane, train or on holiday. If I’m anywhere with internet access I’m digital not dead tree.
With a 3G iPhone in my pocket, will I buy a newspaper or magazine for the train or when travelling?
Print publishers need to hasten their migration online so that their information is available anywhere, anytime to meet their users changing expectations and habits.
Online content providers should make hay while the sun shines. They will NEVER have a better chance of getting a sustainable advantage over their offline competitiors.