Print media is one of the first forms of communication that aggregated information to the masses. This isn’t a story about the history of print media or where the industry is at today, but it’s a look at what print media has overcome and what it is about to face in the very near future. Print media has outlasted many different news sources over its history. The most popular were the radio and television. But these mediums didn’t threat print media like the most current threat is. Television and radio presented content in a different style and form. There were pictures and words. Sound and visual imagery played a part in the content. At both times when these two technologies were introduced, some people left print media in the dust, but the form never disappeared, print media will never be replaced.
However, there is a threat unlike any other coming to the plate. The web.
The web has been around a while and has only impacted printed media sales in a minute manner. But now is the scariest times for analog print. Before the revolution of the smart phone, netbook, and tablet computer, the only way to access the web was through a personal computer. The adoption rate of computers in homes was relatively low until roughly five years ago. Although a majority of the population had web enabled cell phones, the adoption of smartphones and smart phone prices were still at a point to where only the rich and elite had them.
Now that almost every home has immediate access to some form of the web, print media is facing the toughest challenge. The free access to news and content that is found on the web has made some people walk away from their newspaper and magazine subscriptions. Now that tablet computers are being introduced into mainstream consumer electronics, the form of magazine and newspaper is being replicated. Users are now able to replicate the feeling of holding newspapers or magazines with iPads and Kindles.
Analog print media for the first time in its history is facing a direct competition. It should be very interesting how analog media conforms to the new competition. The bigger question is will newspapers still be around in ten years.