Onswipe, a startup that helps publishers build websites optimized for iPads and other touchscreen devices, is closing out what sounds like a big year. Content published through the Onswipe platform reached 44 million unique visitors over the course of the year, the company says, and it’s now reaching 10 million active users per month on iOS. (Onswipe is also available on Android and Kindle Fire, but they make a very small contribution to the total.)
To put that into perspective, CEO and co-founder Jason Baptiste calculates that Onswipe’s unique iPad visitors in the US (a number that he isn’t releasing) now exceed the 3.2 million iPad uniques for WordPress and Tumblr combined. He based that on Quantcast’s mobile traffic data for WordPress.com and Tumblr — for example, WordPress has a reported 12.5 million mobile uniques in the US, then when you take into account that only 31 percent of that traffic comes from iOS, and only 37 percent of that comes from the iPad, you get 1.4 million uniques from the iPad.
Most of Onswipe’s visits (72 percent) came from the United States, followed by the United Kingdom (6.6 percent), Canada (4.8 percent), and Australia (2.7 percent). Baptiste also said that 61 percent of readers viewed articles in portrait mode, versus 39 percent in landscape. And the most popular article this year was “How to Jump Start a Car,” followed by this news article about New Jersey Governor Chris Christie.
There’s been a lot of talk about what the tablet means for the future of publishing and journalism, most recently around the shutdown of News Corp’s tablet-focused publication The Daily. Not surprisingly for someone who’s focused on browser-based publishing, Baptiste said The Daily’s growth was hindered by its paywall, and even by requiring people to download an app.
“The iPad just now is hitting its stride, but it’s hard to build a media business on a limited audience,” he said.
Ultimately, Baptiste said The Daily’s failure doesn’t change the fact that “the world is certainly shifting from the desktop.” But the issue for tablet publishers may be as much about building a sustainable business as it is about finding an audience. On that front, Baptiste doesn’t have any compelling numbers to share, though he does say that 2013 will be “a very significant revenue year.”
Until now, he said Onswipe has been focused on growing the publisher network and the audience, but that’s changing. There will be a suite of new ad products next year, allowing Onswipe to tell publishers that it’s not just going to improve their mobile presence, but also bring them “large increases in revenue,” Baptiste said. He also pointed out that the company hired its first chief revenue officer, Jared Hand, back in August.