Forget everything or anything you ever read about Web 3.0, described as the "semantic Web."

Except for a few select eggheads, no one knows what that means and - worse - they can't explain it.

Here's what Web 3.0 really is: It's the Internet on an iPad, a smart phone or any other handheld, wireless device.

And these gadgets are moving off the shelves faster than they're stocked.

If the forecast is true, there will be around 150 million smart phone users in the United States by year's end.

As for the iPad, San Antonio, Texas-based consulting firm Frost & Sullivan says nearly 15 million were sold last year and that number is expected to double in 2011, meaning there will be around 45 million iPads in use around the world by December.

Duh!

It's no wonder Rupert Murdoch unleashed The Daily for the iPad. There's a potential market of multiple millions.

"Murdoch made a good decision to go with the iPad," said Brent Iadarola, a mobile technology expert with Frost & Sullivan.

Iadarola describes tablets in general, and the iPad in particular, as "a great platform," with "staggering numbers" in terms of consumer adoption.

The only area where Iadarola disagrees with Murdoch is on The Daily's business model.

"Advertising is the key revenue stream" for the Daily, he said.

Which is no surprise. According to the ad trackers at Borrell Associates, $9.1 billion was spent in the United States on mobile advertising in 2010 and even more is expected this year. Some of it will - no doubt - go to media outlets on tablets.

One of the keys to making some premium ad dollars on the iPad, Iadarola says, is having ads on The Daily that are relevant to one's location.

"There's a greater propensity for a consumer to spend if the ad they see is from a business that's close to their own location," he said.

That's the reason newspapers better hope people are running around with a 3G-connected version of the iPad. It isn't limited to WiFi hotspots because it also uses cell phone networks to pick up a user's location, making the ads that are served up that more relevant.

Iadarola is, however, skeptical about The Daily's subscription strategy.

"We're seeing traction with people for The Daily, but they're (still) signing up for the two-weeks free," said Iadarola, in an early-February interview.

Standing out

The challenge for newspapers appearing on the iPad or any other tablet is this: How do they differentiate themselves from the competition?

What, in fact, does The Daily mean for other newspapers? Is the iPad the only tablet to play with? Should newspapers spread their pages to other tablets? What are other challenges newspapers will face in the mobile market that may not be clear right now?

Finally, is there a dominant strategy that any paper can use on the iPad?

Iadarola suggests a few answers.

"Right now, we're talking subscription models on the iPad but newspapers should consider allowing people to buy one edition," he said.

"When you're about to jump on an airplane, you buy your USA Today and The Wall Street Journal. Newspapers should pattern some of those same behaviors, so readers can buy one copy (on their iPad)."

And how does the online gaming world apply here?

Iadarola said there's definitely a gaming world lesson for newspapers.

"There's a toned-down version of the game that's free and the one you want to upgrade to for more features," he said.

There isn't any reason, he said, that newspapers on the iPad couldn't do the same: Offer a version that whets a reader's appetite, and another a reader will buy.

Passing it forward

What has Apple created in the iPad?

"An ecosystem and an infrastructure to sell content," he said.

And while there are other tablet providers, Iadarola says the one to play ball with right now is the one from the gadget makers in Cupertino, Calif.

"At the moment, your best strategy is to offer an app on the iPad," he said. "There are question marks - about the number of sales - about the other tablets out there.

"Android devices will catch up and become key competitors but we still haven't seen the numbers yet (compared to Apple's success)," Iadarola added.

Still, given the number of papers that will likely flock to the iPad, how do you make yours stand out against the rest so readers will buy your app?

Well, you might ask yourself why readers buy The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal - in print as well as online.

Besides having a great reputation, they're great products - in print! - and should be equally great in any digital medium.

It's going to take a good-looking grandparent to sell a beautiful baby.

 

Doug Page blogs and hosts "The Press Room" talk show on newsandtech.com. He can be reached at dpagenewsandtech@gmail.com.

 

 

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