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NPR Listeners React To The iPad

You may have heard that NPR is working on both an app and a fully optimized version of in advance of the iPad's release. 

After the iPad was announced to the world earlier this year, we knew it would be a product that some NPR listeners would be drawn to.  NPR listeners, after all, are two times more likely than the average U.S. citizen to be Mac users (source: MRI Doublebase 2008).  But knowing that there is a strong affinity for Apple products wasn't enough to go on. We wanted to know: is the iPad something our listeners are thinking of as a device for getting their news?  Is there any desire whatsoever for a strong audio experience, or are people thinking of this as more of a reading device?  To get a better sense of what NPR fans expected from the iPad— if, in fact, they expected anything at all— we fielded a survey to our listener panel, NPR Listens. We heard from 890 panelists.  What they had to say after the jump.

First and foremost, we of course wanted to get a sense of how likely people are to consider buying an iPad.  Five percent of respondents indicated some likelihood to purchase an iPad in the next 12 months.  (Likely buyers here, I should point out, are people who answered a 4 or a 5 on a 1-5 scale where 5 was "very likely.") This is no insignificant number.  While our listener panel is not perfectly reflective of this population, there are 26 million weekly listeners to NPR programs.  

While males were almost twice as likely to consider themselves likely buyers (7%) than females (4%), there was little difference between respondents over and under age 45.

Among these likely buyers, we saw a huge appetite for interacting with NPR once they had their hands on the devices.  Over three-quarters (78%) of respondents indicated that they anticipate using the iPad to get news. Nearly as many (74%) said they anticipate using the iPad to get news from NPR.

More interesting than that, though, is the insight we got around how likely buyers envision the device fitting into their lives. To get at this, we asked them where the device would "live" once they purchased it.  The most common words in their responses are represented in the tag cloud below.

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It's clear to see that people are hoping the iPad can fit into more than just an office or a living room environment.  There is a decidedly more leisurely bent to these responses than one might see for where one's laptop, for example, would live in their home.

A more formal enumeration of these responses showed two clear segments: listeners who consider the iPad a "living space" device (kitchen, bedroom nightstand, coffee table) and those who are considering it a true mobile device in that it will go with them wherever they go.

In terms of the types of interactions they expect NPR to provide on the iPad, there was not an overwhelming response for reading versus listening or vice versa. Respondents offered up many different types of experiences that they would consider ideal: some simply want to be able to easily stream their local NPR station quickly and easily because they plan to keep the iPad in a sound dock or connected to home speakers, some wanted to be able to lean back and read longer-form news, some wanted to be able to interact with multimedia in new and interesting ways that this new platform will enable.  

Results from a survey on NPR Listens, n=890 Matt Gallivan/NPR Audience Insight & Research hide caption

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Matt Gallivan/NPR Audience Insight & Research

Results from a survey on NPR Listens, n=890

Matt Gallivan/NPR Audience Insight & Research

These findings helped shape our approaches to the NPR iPad app and our optimized site.  There are a clearly a number of different "types" of experiences that likely iPad owners are anticipating from NPR.  Hopefully, the app and the site will be ready to accommodate all of those.  

If you're one of those iPad purchasers: what do you think?  Is the iPad something on which you want to interact with NPR? If so, how?  And if you're reading this after you've had a chance to use the app or the site on an iPad, what should we be doing differently?

Matt Gallivan is Sr. Research Analyst for Digital Media at NPR.