Which groups are using tablets because they've been issued them? All of Yale University's medical students have been issued tablets, iPads they can use until graduation for texts, course materials and even patient information. British Airways, with improved customer service in mind, is experimenting with flight crew iPads that will hold everything from customer data to safety manuals, crew schedules, special customer requests and a library of company documents. At United and Continental airlines, pilots get the iPads -- 11,000 of them -- for navigational charts and flight manuals.
The motivation from those companies and institutions is cost savings in paper, printing and distribution. At Yale:
The program will distribute 520 iPads. If that sounds expensive, consider this: Dean Schwartz notes that the school spends about US$100,000 per year to copy, collate and distribute course materials. So far, he's spent about $600,000 on the iPad program. Within a few years, Schwartz notes, money saved on printing costs will pay for the initiative.Ditto the airlines: United estimates it will save, per pilot, some 38 pounds of documentation and 16 million pieces of paper each year. That will shrink storage space, postage and shipping, design and printing. Can your briefing books for boards of directors and public officials be far behind?
All this is to give you a heads-up on following your audience. If your intended target audience is likely to move to tablet or e-reader use, spurred by being handed one for daily use, how will you need to change your operations and plans to communicate with its members? Are you publishing in formats that work on tablets and e-readers? Here are some additional data and options to consider:
- Redesign your website: Amazon -- currently testing its own Kindle tablet -- is doing just that, to make its site more tablet-user-friendly. That will pay off for its impending device, as well as current users of iPads and other tablets. The new design, shown below, is being slowly rolled out to users now. It's clean and spare...a good example to follow.
- Pay attention to shifting demographics: Nielsen data issued last month shows that women own the majority of e-readers, with older users also increasing. Women now own more than 60% of e-readers, considered to be the reason women's magazines are seeing better sales on the Nook than the iPad, for example. The data also suggest that you can't write off older audiences as paper-toters anymore.
- Consider new sponsorship and advertising options: Forget those 300-pound fall fashion magazines. Ralph Lauren has bought all the ad space in the New York Times iPad app for the month of September. The ads will include live streamed video, a special new ad format, and free access to five paid sections for users. Can your app do the same with a sponsor?