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Summary:

The arrival of the iPad was supposed to boost online subscription sales for magazines. It didn’t work out that way. But smaller devices like the iPad Mini and Nook are starting to change that.

David Carey
photo: Janko R

The arrival of the iPad in 2010 was supposed to be a game-changer for magazine brands, but subscriptions never took off as expected, especially among women. Now, that’s starting to change thanks to smaller screens that can fit in a purse.

Speaking at the D: Dive Into Media conference in Southern California on Tuesday, Hearst Magazines President David Carey said that 10-inch screens appealed to men for magazine content but that women were reluctant to embrace them. The 7-inch screen such as those found on the Nook or iPad, however, is leading to a surge in female subscribers.

Still, overall tablet figures are hardly overwhelming. Despite the fact that 40 percent of Hearst’s traffic is coming through mobile sites, tablets still account for only three percent of overall revenue; Carey says he hopes to get that figure to 10 percent by 2016. (Note: we’ll be exploring new revenue models for media at paidContent Live in April). Carey had predicted Hearst would reach 1 million digital subscribers by the start of this year but the number came in closer to 800,000.

In the meantime, traditional print magazines will continue to occupy a primary role in Hearst’s business. Carey says that perceptions of magazines have been tarred by the dramatic decline of newspapers. He argues that the ongoing popularity of print magazines with young women as well as their general brand strength means Hearst is in a good position.

Carey also praised Apple’s role in teaching consumers to buy online content. In response to a question about Apple’s control over consumer data, he said this isn’t a problem since 65 percent of readers volunteer to share such data.

  1. The lack of on going software development (tech) and R&D within publishing hurt those companies more than the size of the iPad/Tablet, the same principle applies to book publishing and record companies (online music) how these companies exist with out real in house software tech expertise boggles the mind. They want some third party to pay them and do all the work and then complain when those same companies past them up.

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  2. The rise of the IPAD was never supposed to increase the subscription rates of legacy print magazines. The growth of the tablet marketplace was “supposed” to be a signal to content providers that they needed to adjust, adapt and then evolve their thinking about the changing media consumption patterns of their readers and this new publishing platform. While Mr. Carey continues to extol the virtues of print magazines….it appears that he is in a state of denial about the role that tablets will play with his readers in the years ahead.What Hearst needs to do is create an entirely new suite of tablet based publications that stand apart from their legacy brands. It’s not going to happen…but that’s what they should do.
    Al DiGuido

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  3. Whats disappointing is that Apple’s mini gives us publishers no way to detect a small device to publish differently to it.

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  4. Since the ipad I have been more inclined to look at online magazines. I have been addicted to the http://therethinker.com. Thanks for the article!

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