A new study conducted by the Reynolds Journalism Institute at the University of Missouri found that the top uses of iPads are reading news and getting information about current events.  1,600 people responded to the survey and unfortunately for the print news industry, over half of respondents who subscribe to printed newspapers who use their iPads for at least one hour each day for reading news are likely to cancel their print newspaper subscriptions within six months.

Furthermore, 90% of respondents who spent at least an hour each day reading or viewing news on their iPads said they were either very likely (71.8%) or somewhat likely (21.2%) to continue to get this content via a newspaper’s iPad app than they would be to use a Web browser to read that content on a newspaper’s website.

Of course, iPad use hasn’t been widely adopted yet, but clearly, the writing is on the wall, and this study is just one more piece of quantitative proof that news consumption has changed.  Interestingly, many newpapers and magazines are moving towards fee-based subscription iPad apps to deliver content.  However, the study also found that price can have a negative effect in shifting traditional print newspaper subscribers to the iPad app.

The trick for newspapers and magazines is finding the sweet spot in terms of balancing convenience and price in consumers’ minds.  Considering the study revealed that most iPad users today are well-educated, affluent men between the ages of 35 and 64 who consider themselves to be early adopters of technology, the sweet spot for this audience is not likely to be the sweet spot for the broader audience of iPad users of the future.  However, until the price tag on the iPad goes down, there should be time to find that sweet spot.

Additionally, the iPad is the hot gadget today, but the tablet market is poised for significant growth.  That means the iPad will have a lot of competition in coming years.  Just as Google’s Android smart phone device has stolen market share from Apple’s iPhone and RIM’s BlackBerry devices, competitors to the iPad will likely challenge Apple in this category.  As competition grows, the newspaper apps available to consumers will undoubtedly change as well.

In other words, the content and media industries are changing more each day.  Consumption habits evolve with each new piece of technology that hits the market.  The winners will be the news outlets and publications that understand you can’t stop progress.

Check out the report on the Reynolds Journalism Institute website.

Image: Flickr