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Photo by Kominyetska. Used under CC license.

Mobile media–smartphones, tablets, etc.–is a huge emerging sector of the technological world, and it has a big influence on modern journalism. The thing is, we don’t really know what its effect will be. Sure we can speculate, and it’s really no wonder there are so many studies trying to figure out what will happen, but things are changing so fast, it’s hard for anyone to keep up.

One of the biggest questions is will tablets, like the iPad, save print media. They present hope for many print publishers but it isn’t a sure deal if they actually will make that much of a difference. According to the American Journalism Review, the majority of of iPad users are very well-off, and already are part of the top sector of people who still read print publications. They said that in a study of 1,600 iPad users conducted the Donald W. Reynolds Journalism Institute at the University of Missouri, half of the households made $100,000 a year–more than 80 were male. So far, tablets really only reach a certain demographic of people, so it’s really hard to tell if they actually the saviors of print for the general public.

Personally, I’m not really sure what to think. Smartphones are more and more frequent at the university level. But most of the people who have them come from well-to-do families and are able to afford the relatively expensive monthly data plans. I think it will still be some time before the average phone around the U.S. is a smartphone. Data plans will have to come down in costs. I also think the tablets will take awhile to reach more demographics. At the moment the iPad costs about $500. That’s practically the price of a laptop (a cheaper one, but still). I think for most people, while not as easy to transport as tablets, laptops are more useful. Especially at the collegiate level when writing papers, taking notes, and watching movies are the predominant activities–all of which are catered to better by laptops. At least, that is my opinion. Typing on the touch pads of the tablets is not as conducive to long form essay writing as keyboards.

Having the ability to connect to through the internet at all times is very handy. It’s very useful to have the ability to look up directions at any time. To see where the cheapest gas is in the area. To persistently have access to email. However, after talking to many people who have smartphones, I’ve found that a very common occurrence is that it’s also very difficult to cut yourself off from it. Constantly being connected to everyone is tiring and many people say they need to learn how to better control their use of social networking and connectivity.

It will be very interesting to see how journalism is affected, and how our society is altered by it.