Posts Tagged ‘Apple Tablet’
Well, I didn’t do badly on this morning’s guess about Apple’s tablet announcement.
It’s focus on media – and not on computing, per se – is as I expected. And Apple leveraged the power of its iTunes store to offer what it’s calling iBooks. And, it’s distributing those books in ePub format, which makes not-for-profit and small-scale publishing possible in the same way Apple legitimized both podcasts and free apps.
I was a little saddened by the place of prominence Apple gave the game developers. I know this puts me squarely in the minority, but I am so tired of drive-fast or first-person-killer games. It should be obvious this type of device would do that – there are plenty of tablets out there that run games. But iPad does nothing to revolutionize games.
As I suggested, however, it does revolutionize book, magazine and newspaper publishing. Or, rather, it should. The New York Times, so often the object of my ire for it’s slanted, yellow and sometimes false news reporting, unveiled a gorgeous, next generation version of their iPhone application which made tremendous use of the iPad’s multi-media capabilities. We can only hope this is the harbinger of things to come from the journalism and publishing communities, or else this device will be the death of both of those industries.
Secondarily, the iPad looks like a great presentation device – with fantastic navigation aids built into the unveiled iWork applications (which, themselves, are available cheaply on the iPad). And, it’s almost a computer with the addition of a keyboard. At its price point, this is one compelling offering for all sorts of fun and semi-serious uses.
The iPad has a network connection, of course – WiFi for the sensible ones among us, wide-area 3G for those with deep pockets. The innovation here: the pricey $30/month unlimited access fee carries no contract – you can cancel any time. Now there’s an innovation Google missed when it unveiled Nexus One (I blogged about that mini-disaster, too). Perhaps more importantly – and to the distaste of many bloggers, pundits and iPhone users – Apple’s partner for 3G network coverage is … AT&T. Yep, this announcement further solidifies their partnership and, I think, puts another arrow in any notion that iPhones will be coming to the other US carriers.
Overall, yet another sterling example of Apple innovation (hardware and software), marketing savvy (the rumor build-up) and corporate direction (leveraging all their strengths to the maximum). The iPad is going to be another run-away success. Google: PAY ATTENTION!
I believe Apple has let the rumor mill do its build-up marketing again and, indeed, we’ll see a new tablet-type device as part of today’s announcements from Moscone.
The world, and therefore Apple, has seen many tablets come, and many tablets go. No company has cracked the code with this form factor – except the ruggedized workplace tablets, with their tiny market niche. So, unlike the MP3 player market, which Apple revolutionized with the iPod in 2000, the tablet market is littered with failure. Why would Apple want to address such a market?
I believe Apple has seen a confluence of streams it can leverage via its hardware (and software) design expertise and its wildly-successful, fun-to-use store. Therefore, unlike Google’s tepid, half-hearted stab at changing the wireless telecom market with Nexus One, Apple is going to use its new tablet to revolutionize the book – and, possibly, magazine – marketplace. This will not be a tablet computer, as the IT-related magazines have been speculating. This will not be a bigger iPod as the music-focused blogs have been speculating. Nope. This is going to be the new way we read novels, short stories, and possibly high-value articles. Notice I did not say “the new way we read books“. Books are the old model. Books are the distribution mechanism for novels (etc.) – and, thank you, but the Internet is the new distribution mechanism. Amazon showed this niche is profitable (due as much to its store as to its Kindle hardware), and this is the positive sign Apple might have needed to see.
How will Apple go Kindle one better? I think the answer lies in the content we now know as magazines.
The best magazines are a great old-school blend of genuinely-excellent authorship and timely news that’s sadly lost it’s market almost as fast as radio and newspapers. That’s because magazines are simply aggregators of content, supported by ads. Has that model been replaced by the Internet? Yes. But, just as there has been no profitable model for daily news on the Internet – because newspapers are no longer the only daily aggregators of news and therefore can not sustain the high ads rates necessary for their costly (and environmentally-unfriendly) distribution technique – there has been no profitable model for magazines.
I think Apple, with its forthcoming tablet, is going to make it easy to create and distribute hi-gloss multi-media magazine-type content in a form-factor and user experience that’s exciting to use and compelling to view. Via DRM techniques that the media and freedom advocates will abhor, Apple will support a paid subscription model that will make delivery (distribution) of this content painless for users. And, having done so for magazines, this new approach will start to affect books of all types – such that short-cycle publications (like magazines) and long-cycle publications (like books) will start to merge into a seamless category. All available via single-purchase or subscription via the iTunes store.
Actually, let me re-define easy to create (from above): In fact, I think the process is going to be somewhere between HTML publishing and book-generation. It’s not going to be easy in the classic sense, and more like the application development cycle. Therefore, in my view, daily news is going to be left out of this revolution because its content requires too-rapid a cycle to participate. Only publications of durable value – those that are not in the immediacy category – are ripe for this approach. Think The Atlantic Monthly.
In sum, then, just as the iPod was not as much about music-playing as it was about music-distribution, the Apple Tablet (while certainly an awesome piece of product design) will be mostly about a new printed-word content distribution system in the iTunes store.