Tablets Not Yet A Newspaper Substitute, Telegraph Finds

A stark finding from The Telegraph newspaper, reported by WAN-IFRA: “On average, the Telegraph iPad app was being used only seven times a month, when users … were unable to buy a paper. The devices were being left at home or at work – not being carried everywhere.”

Telegraph mobile product development director Tim Rowell says: “People are realising that the iPad is not a direct substitute for the newspaper, they’re arguably complementary” (Update: Rowell contacted paidContent:UK to stress it’s not yet a substitute).

This is important because, as coarse as the apparent logic might appear, many publishers had been hoping tablets would finally deliver them a post-print digital business model unencumbered by that messy worldwide web.

Some like News Corp (NSDQ: NWS) are betting on a straight-line conversion over time, from consumption of printed newspapers to consumption of newspaper-like app editions.

If this is not the case, the decline of print and emergence of digital may remain less joined up and, inevitably, more complex than publishers had come to hope.

Some comfort, perhaps – News Corp.’s app editions are generally a richer experience than The Telegraph‘s ipad app.

After speaking with Rowell, WAN-IFRA observes: “Advertising agencies and clients see the iPad app as a web product while newspapers see it as print.”

The Telegraph buried an initial iPad build it did last year, eventually launched a rudimentary free app and is due soon to publish a fuller, version-two iPad app, likely with charges.