ABC study reveals growing worry about Apple
The Audit Bureau of Circulations and ABC Interactive have released a new study, "Going Mobile: How Publishers are solidifying strategies and Adapting to the Mobile Market." The second annual survey culls responses from ABC's US and Canadian newspaper and magazine industry members to find out about their mobile strategy and initiatives.
Last year's survey found tremendous optimism regarding mobile - optimism that has only increased in this year's study. About 85% of ABC's responders to the 2009 survey felt they would be relying on a mobile device as a primary information source in the next three years. This year, 90% of readers believe people will rely more on mobile devices. Last year, 42 percent of respondents felt that e-readers would become major information sources. This year that number is up more than 20 points to 63 percent.
Still, last year responders were somewhat divided as to which company would have the largest impact on the mobile publishing industry. In 2009, responders said Apple eventually would, but -- and this is key -- Amazon ran a close second.
What a difference a year makes. In 2010, 86 percent of respondents cited Apple as the e-reader company most likely to impact the publishing market. Google/Android was a distant second while Amazon came in at number three.
As Apple becomes an indispensable middleman for newspaper and magazine publishers in the e-reader space, the company is also creating unease, due largely to the increasing frustration publishers have with its subscription model. Only 11 percent of respondents said they were satisfied with Apple's handling of subscriber information and analytics, with 15 percent saying they were dissatisfied. Further, a paltry 19 percent of responders said they were actually satisfied with Apple's app business model.
Do publishers believe Apple will do to them what they did to the record labels? This unease among people in the publishing industry is not a new phenomenon. As far back as February, media writer Michael Wolff sounded the Apple alarm.
But this unease hasn't kept publishers from jumping into the app space. Among magazine publishers, 87 percent said they planned to develop an iPad app over the next 12 months; 86 percent of business publishers and 60 percent of newspapers said they had similar plans.
This survey itself arose last year out of Apple's stellar performance with the iPhone and the prevailing mood that e-readers, tablets and other mobile devices were a potential lifeline for the ailing publishing industry. The survey, it should also be noted, only shows mobile monetization statistics for iPad apps. Apple figures large in this study. Then again, when Apple figures so overwhelmingly on the entire tablet market -- there is bound to be some unease. Apple is the digital equivalent of a hyperpower. Can it make diplomatic peace with uneasy publishers?