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Mobile News, Yes. Mobile Paid News Apps? Not So Much

Attention is being paid to a new study from the Pew Research Center that found that more people are getting their news from the web than from a newspaper. In fact the only platform that beat out the Web in terms of audience was TV - a first for the news industry.  The report also looks at the uptake of mobile news sources among consumers - and how they are access this news.

Bad News for Apple

Despite Apple’s wall garden approach to the mobile platform - not to mention publishing - the survey finds that consumers have not fully embraced this approach. Despite the fact that nearly half of all Americans (47%) now get some form of local news on a mobile device, the survey, produced by PEJ with Pew Internet and American Life Project in partnership with the Knight Foundation, that doesn’t necessarily guarantee publishers a revenue source. As of January 2011, 7% of Americans reported owning some kind of electronic tablet, nearly double the number four months earlier.

But to date, even among early adaptors, only 10% of those who have downloaded local news apps paid for them. 

The Los Angeles Times cuts the figure a different, but equally as dismal way: just one in 100 American adults pays for an app to access the news. Perhaps it is a function of too much variety for mobile users; with so many choices they are unwilling or unable to pay much for any one source.

The survey also found that of those who use their mobile devices for news, 51% acquire information via six or more different sources or platforms per month. And 75% of the "mobile" group connect via social networks.

Price Does Matter 

 There is some price sensitivity to what consumers are willing to pay, the survey also found. Half of the sample was asked if they would pay $10, and half of the sample was asked if they would pay $5. While 23%, said they would be willing to pay $5 per month, that figure dropped to 18% among respondents who were asked if they would pay $10 per month.

The bad news is that even people willing to pay these miniscule amounts (miniscule at least in the eyes of the news providers) are still in the minority. In both questions, roughly three-quarters of adults say they would not be willing to pay for online access to their local newspaper, even if it was the only way to access the newspaper’s content.

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