It's no question that the popularity of tablets is on the rise. Apple's iPad 2 continues to be a best-seller. Amazon has sold more than 5 million units in the last quarter of 2011 alone. Tablet ownership is even reported to have doubled during the recent holiday period.  Apple is likewise optimistic that tablet sales will soon outgrow PC sales. As such, if you're a publisher, you might want to focus on building apps and content for tablets soon. But before you take the plunge, there are a few things you will need to consider.

Words of Wisdom

Many have tried, and many still have failed to gain traction in releasing their tablet-optimized content. There seems to be a misconception that simply reformatting your website to fit a nine-inch multitouch screen perfectly would be the best way to publish for tablets. Layout is only one part of the problem, though. Taptu CEO and co-founder Mitch Lazar shares at TechCrunch how there are four big mistakes that publishers make in bringing their content to the tablet format. These relate to distribution, discovery, branding and context.

Going mobile is easier said than done, quips Lazar, citing how publishers often miss the point. These mobile devices "will dictate the success and failure of the media industries," and yet so many publishers are "stumbling in their mobile strategy." There are basically four reasons why, and content-developers should avoid these mistakes to succeed in tablet publishing.

  • Don't try to reinvent the wheel. The medium and tools are already there. Rather than tear down your publishing model and rebuild from ground up, it might be faster (and easier) to tap into talented and focused startups that can help distribute your content with content partners.
  • Seek out distribution and discovery channels. Most publishers want their content to remain in their exclusive control, within controlled spaces. However, content and app ecosystems are already being built around tablet platforms, such as iTunes App Store, iBookStore and Android Market. These can help get your content popularized.
  • Consider the potential of branding. Most media outfits would simply rehash their brands into tablet-versions, but many could do better by launching an altogether new brand or publication tailored specifically for the tablet interface.
  • Ensure context. Web content is increasingly moving away from reliance on search engines and searches. Traffic nowadays will come from recommendation engines and context. Traffic is becoming more social, and reader apps will recommend content based on preferences and recommendations within your social network.

More Than Just Content

Suddenly, producing content for tablets is no longer just about the content itself. Rather, producers will also need to carefully consider where to distribute their content, and how to harness existing networks, technologies and best-practices to get ahead. And with print magazines seeing a sustained decline in terms of readership, publishers will have to act sooner than later.