Condé Nast Study Concludes iPad Is Not A Mobile Device (At Least Not Now)

There have been over 3.8 million downloads of Condé Nast apps on the iPad and iPhone since the publisher began rolling them out. Over the past few months, Condé Nast has been surveying readers of its GQ, Vanity Fair, Wired and Glamour apps and has found that these users are generally not the early-adopters or Apple (NSDQ: AAPL) fanboys the publisher expected.

The company gleaned a number of things from 100 hours of one-on-one interviews and more than 5,000 in-app surveys it conducted over the past few weeks. Among the findings, participants weren’t familiar with the kind of navigation that was used in iPhone magazine apps and that interactive ads often need to come with directions, as well. But the big news is iPad and iPhone readers seem to spend more time with the digital replicas in comparison to the print versions.

In general, print readers spend about 45 minutes with an issue each month. In contrast, readers using their iPhone and iPad mag apps spent an average of 160 minutes across all the available brands. Still, the publisher wasn’t able to determine how many issues within apps were included in the time-spent figure (for example, if a participant had six GQ app issues, the publisher couldn’t tell if a person was just looking at the August or July or some other combination of months).

In other words, once someone has two or more app issues downloaded, Condé Nast was unable to tell which issue they are looking at because Apple does not provide that level of detail. Incidentally, this is one of the frustrations magazine publishers have when dealing with Apple, because they can’t scrutinize their subscribers’ buying habits as well as they can do with their print pubs.

In an interview, Scott McDonald, SVP market research, Condé Nast, said that the amount of time spent proved at least one thing: reading apps is a “lean back activity.” And since most people in the survey said they tended to leave the iPad at home, the publisher concluded that the device probably shouldn’t be considered as an mobile device when devising an advertising campaign or content with that specific product in mind.

Since the iPad was released, the debate has revolved around whether the device is mobile or not. As my colleague Tricia Duryee has noted, mobile is generally associated with being a “personal” device. But if a single iPad is often a shared item, that dispels the notion of it being mobile.

However, McDonald was quick to note that as the iPad — or other tablet devices — evolve and become cheaper and lighter, the idea of it being regarded as more purely mobile could come into play. But right now, at least, this is something for the couch — not the commute.

According to the survey, 83 percent reported a likelihood to purchase the next month