2010, Year of the eReader and portable computing, and the regeneration of newspapers

Having glanced at some CES 2010 coverage today, I have noticed a massive trend (as has everyone else to be honest). Portable ‘eReaders’ and tablet or ‘slate’ devices as they are now being branded. One of which that took my eye is the Skiff eReader.

The Skiff device has an 11.5” screen and will have a resolution of 1,600 x 1,200, which is apparently enough to view the entire front of the NY Times. Judging by that the Daily Telegraph should have no problems showing either. The device will show a slightly different publication to the print version, allowing for what seems to be possibly personalised advertising to be displayed. This makes sense and as advertising is the major revenue puller for the news industry, seems like a good idea.

Now, the average broadsheet/proper newspaper costs around £1 in print. This is a good price to get your daily news intake. However as online news is free and more up to date, this is why newspaper sales have been declining. Now with a device such as the Skiff reader, you can provide a newspaper direct to the consumer without having the overhead costs of printing, and you can still display ads to the consumer. Now as its cheaper to produce the copy of the paper because there is no printing and physical distribution, I propose the following model for newspaper circulation. 

If these devices can be hooked up to the 3G data network, you could be sitting on the train and wanting to read some news. You could get out your eReader from your bag and browse a list of papers available to you. As with the real world, you could preview the front page and then decide to buy the paper, just like buying a song via iTunes on the go. When the paper has downloaded you can then read it at your leisure.

This will be easier than having to browse the web for content, as it will be provided in the familiar format of a newspaper, and you can keep a paper archive stored on the device. If it would let you take clippings for more refined storage that would be a big plus, as sharing news is as important as reading it yourself.

As each paper will cost a nominal amount of money, probably less than the print versions price, newspapers will still be seeing a return from this business model. However, I still feel there is a great mental barrier in peoples minds about having to buy digital content. I think this is because you cant physically hold it (why I still buy CD’s!). But if the price is right, I’m sure it could take of this year.

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