Tablets take off; will media innovation follow?

©IDG Communications, Inc. Photo contributed by Matthew Mikaelian.

eMedia Vitals

Apple CEO Tim Cook says tech innovation is moving from PCs to tablets and smartphones. Slowly, magazine publishing is following.

Speaking at a Goldman Sachs conference in San Francisco, Cook said there’s a “sea change” taking place in the PC industry as development shifts from PCs to mobile devices. “But we’re in the early innings of this game,” he added.

Not too early for magazine publishers to start shifting resources toward their tablet strategies. A new study from NPD Group found that more than one-third of consumers are transitioning some of their content consumption from PCs to tablets and smartphones. Combine consumption and engagement trends with rapidly growing tablet sales – Apple shipped 23 million tablets in the fourth quarter alone, and lower-priced, 7-inch tablets are rapidly gaining share while creating a mass market – and the stage is set for a significant uptick in sales of digital content, including magazines.

Last week’s magazine circulation report from the Alliance for Audited Media shows the gains digital editions are making – but also the untapped opportunity. Digital replica editions among the titles reporting to the AAM more than doubled over the second half of 2012 from a year earlier, accounting for nearly 8 million digital replicas. That number is still just 2.4% of total circulation, however. And just 65% of magazines in the AAM report reported digital circulation; several large titles did not, including Better Homes and Gardens, Barron’s, AARP, TV Guide, and Time Inc’s major titles such as Time, Sports Illustrated and Southern Living. This suggests even higher sales of digital editions.

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