Peter Kafka

Recent Posts by Peter Kafka

For Newspapers Publishers, the Kindle-iPhone Race Is Already Over


We all know tomorrow’s newspapers won’t be printed on paper, but delivered via the Internet. The question for today’s publishers is whether consumers are going read them on smart phones like Apple’s iPhone or the Kindle from Amazon (AMZN).

But that shouldn’t be a question at all, argues Martin Langveld at Nieman Lab: Smart phones are winning this one running away.

And, I agree.

Langveld’s piece is worth reading, but I can sum it up here: If you’re a hardcore book or magazine person,  perhaps you’ll carry a Kindle or similar device around. But everyone has a phone on them already, and they’re already using them to read stuff online. The New York Times (NYT) says it’s generating 60 million mobile page views a month, up 100 percent in the last year.

And while Langveld’s post doesn’t get into this, I’ve yet to figure out the appeal of reading newspapers on a Kindle, or any of the other e-readers I’ve fondled to date. Yes, the screen is bigger, but it to me the experience is an unhappy compromise between print and the Web.

(I do understand why publishers are so eager to get consumers to read their papers on e-readers–they think that if they can reproduce a newspaper-like experience, they can reproduce newspaper economics, where they get money for both subscriptions and advertising. But future technology won’t revive extinct business models.)

Kindle-like readers will get better over over time. Screens will get lighter and more flexible, and add color and video capabilities, and navigation will get less clumsy.

But that could be many years from now–while more and more people become used to reading anything and everything from their handsets–$99 iPhone from Apple (AAPL), anyone? If you’re still in the newspaper business, and think you will be in a year or two, you’d better figure out to get your stuff on my phone, right now.

[Image credit: Paolo Camera]

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