The Associated Press and Conde Nast are among the latest content publishers looking to take advantage of the growing number of e-reader devices on the market, including Apple’s iPad.
AP is creating a business unit called AP Gateway to help it, along with newscasters and broadcasters, sell digital content to readers using Web-connected mobile devices.
AP said it plans to expand mobile offerings such as its AP Mobile news service for cell phones and other online platforms, and has created an application for the iPad that will show custom bundles of headlines, stories, photos and other content from AP and its member organizations.
Pricing for the application-and whether, or for how long, particular content will be offered free-has yet to be determined.
“AP is proposing a change that is exciting, historic and even breathtaking. After 164 years, AP sees a way to extend the power of the cooperative to become a revenue-generating engine,” William Dean Singleton, chairman of the AP board, said in a statement. “By opening the AP Gateway, our industry can get into position now to take advantage of what promises to be a remarkable period.”
Conde Nast also is preparing to take advantage of the blooming market. In an internal memorandum March 1, the publishing giant reportedly announced plans to create iPad-friendly versions of several of its popular magazines, including Wired, GQ, Vanity Fair, The New Yorker and Glamour.
“We feel confident enough that consumers will want our content in this new format that we are committing the resources necessary to be there,” Charles Townsend, president and CEO of Conde Nast, told the New York Times. “How large a revenue stream digitized content represents is an answer we hope to learn through this process.”
The New York Times, wooed by Apple CEO Steve Jobs, has also considered porting its content to the iPad.
The iPad belongs to a category that ABI Research calls a smartbook: “a low-powered device running a mobile operating system that is always connected, either by WiFi or, more frequently, a cellular or broadband connection,” ABI Research analyst Jeff Orr wrote in a Feb. 22 report. ABI said it expects 163 million smartbooks to ship worldwide by 2015.
AP described the number of readers increasingly using handheld devices to access news and entertainment content as a “digital do-over” for newspaper and magazine publishers.
And in a keynote address before the Colorado Press Association Feb. 26, AP CEO Tom Curley told those assembled, “Consumers are getting very excited about these breakthroughs, and as creators and publishers of news content, we should be equally excited.”
Curley continued, “No longer do we have to be held hostage to the constraints of a Web site. We won’t have to depend on consumers finding our sites among overflowing bookmarks or keyword [searches]. We can deliver news directly to the consumer in exciting new ways.”
The moves by AP and Conde Nast come at a time when more people are getting their news online, according to a report from the Pew Research Center. The organization found that Americans are most likely to get their news online rather than from printed publications like newspapers, which have seen sharp declines in ad revenue over the past few years. In addition, the center said 92 percent of U.S. citizens use multiple sources to learn news, including online sources, television and printed publications.