Since last October, when New York Times executive editor Bill Keller slipped up and name-dropped an Apple "slate," the fortunes of the Times has been regularly linked to that of the Apple iPad. The reason is simple: Many analysts saw – and continue to see – salvation in mobile devices, such as e-readers and the iPad, which could get people consuming more newspaper content. The Times played a big roll in the iPad's unveiling, which had many wondering if the Grey Lady had already chosen which horse to bet on.
But today in a call with reporters and analysts, the closest Times execs got to the Apple iPad was a vague mention of "mobile distribution" models. The call was organized to discuss Q4 earnings for the Times, which weren't rosy – ad revenue shrank – but not exactly dismal (ad revenue didn't shrink as much as it did in quarters past).
The lone hint of Apple-centric strategy came from Times CEO Janet L. Robinson. “[W]e continue to embrace innovative new platforms and devices that provide rich experiences for our content," Robinson said during the call, according to Forbes.
So why wasn't Apple mentioned specifically? As Peter Kafka of All Things Digital points out, one explanation might be that not a lot of people believe the iPad is going to be a panacea for ailing newspaper business.
"[N]ot a single analyst showed any interest in [mobile distribution] – a good reminder that neither the Times nor Wall Street expects the iPad to be material to the company’s business for quite some time," Kafka wrote. In other words, buzz around the iPad may not instantly translate into dollars for newspapers such as the Times, and industry experts know it.
We want to hear from you. Are you planning on buying an Apple iPad? And if you're interested in the device, how much would you use it for reading newspapers? Drop us a line in the comments section, or you find us on Twitter, @CSMHorizonsBlog.