Recently, Newsweek magazine announced that it will no longer be issuing a print version. This came as a shock for many. After all, the reputable magazine has been in print since 1933, and then it made history as the first print publication in its genre to take this leap.

Will others follow, we ask? Is this the route print magazines in the Middle East will take as well? Are we there yet?

So I asked around, and I got talking with the business editor of Forbes Middle East, Hannah Stewart. Here are some of her personal reflections on the matter:

“Newsweek’s decision to cease publication of its print edition came as a sad though unsurprising development. Print media is facing an uphill challenge in an increasingly digitalized world and publishing houses are having to forge new identities that position their publications for the transition into cyberspace while safeguarding the future of their print editions,” she said.

Companies too are embracing digital. We have already taken the leap, and launched a Deloitte Middle East App last year – our very first. The idea behind it was to take our periodical thought-leadership magazine called ‘Middle East Point of View’ and turn it into a digital format… we had many reasons for doing so.

Let’s agree that the world is even more connected digitally. The use of smartphones and tablets has been increasing at an astounding pace. Take a recent report by Deloitte entitled ‘TMT predictions 2013’ which forecasts that a “billion smartphones should ship for the first time ever.” In addition, as a result of the growing usage of smartphones, the report forecasts that the mobile advertising market should grow by 50 percent to reach US$9 billion globally.

More recently, for the first time ever, Deloitte’s annual report, the ‘2012 Global Report’ was issued in a completely digital format. There were no print versions – everything was online and interactive.

And so, given the importance of communication nowadays, Apps on smartphones and tablets are becoming the norm for individuals who want to manage what they want to read on the latest developments in their areas of interest.

Of course, we conducted some research before taking the digital leap (and we kept the ‘Middle East Point of View’ publication in print format too, as all things digital have not taken over the MENA region yet). Here are a few reasons why we believe mobile apps are an imminent trend for businesses globally:
– Smartphones are taking over feature phones.
– Smartphones are boundless – with some professionals using their devices as computers.
– App stores are growing exponentially, with an extensive range of apps on the market on all kinds of topics, activities and business issues.
– User experience is enhanced – take the digital Global Report from Deloitte that actually has videos and interactive features (we never saw that happening).

I also asked Hannah on her take, as a media professional working in the MENA, if we are in fact ready to embrace such changes in the region. Here is what she had to say:

“I think ‘readiness’ depends to a large extent on access to, and familiarity with, the relevant technologies. Such access varies widely from country to country, making it difficult to sweeping generalizations. That said, it is impossible to ignore the significance of online media today and its impact across the entire region will no doubt continue to grow, albeit it to varying degrees.”

Whilst we cannot say for certain where the world is digitally heading, or if we will no longer have the option to choose between ‘paperback’ and ‘hard cover’, we do know that Apps are important. So here is a link to ours:

By Ceem Haidar
Public Relations regional leader at Deloitte Middle East