Will that be paper or plastic? Neither!

Today, the editor of Newsweek, Tina Brown, announced the magazine will cease publication at the end of 2012. While this announcement does not represent the singular defining moment in the demise of the print industry, it is, certainly, emblematic of it.

The tablet industry, popularized by the almost ubiquitous iPad, has been the catalyst of this decline, though the availability of content online, via PCs, had already signaled the inevitability of the decline. Earlier this year, Morgan Stanley warned investors, in its report, Printing: Tablets to Reduce Printing Demand, that tablet ownership would accelerate the reduction in demand for printing, which began in 2006, by between 8% and 15%. Morgan Stanley also warned that printing, in some areas, had declined by as a much as 16% and that 41% of tablet owners cited reduced printing as one of the benefits of tablet adoption.

The music industry has been dealing, initially quite poorly, with a similar paradigm shift in content presentation format for a least a decade. The irony is that another Apple product, the iPod, was front and center in precipitating the move from “plastic” (CDs) to digital formats.

Newsweek will soon discover whether or not it can monetize an online version of itself. For now, though the answer to the question: “Will that be paper or plastic?” is “Neither!”

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