So the iPad now exists. Superb. And as a delivery device for news and entertainment content, it looks absolutely fantastic. Of course, the normal Apple disclaimers apply… Yes, not many people will have one initially. Yes, the cost of repurposing content for this interface will not be negligible. But from the first look it seems to be the best thing that has happened to the industry in a little while. No, I’m not a starry-eyed optimist believing that one device will save the industry. But it is one device, built to deliver a superb user experience, with an attached store through which Apple have proven the mass market will PAY FOR CONTENT AND APPLICATIONS.
Several companies have seen good success in charging for content on the iPhone via apps:
- The Guardian’s app hit 70,000 downloads in its first month, with an upfront fee of £2.39
- The Spectator, released through Exact Editions, claims good success at a price point of 59p per week or just over £2 per month.
- And I have already written up a review of the top magazine apps on the iPhone – both free and paid
I am sure that companies like Exact Editions and Zinio will be working right now on extending their platform so that they can easily repurpose print pdfs for viewing on an iPad. And I am sure that every iPhone development house will be calling its newspaper and magazine contacts to ask if they would like a bespoke application for the device. Although the latter is a much more interesting proposition, the former (as with the iPhone) is likely to take over initially. It is easier to see the print metaphor on the iPad, given its larger size, and a straight republication of “e-editions” is the cheapest way to go, though far from inventive.
The Cool Stuff
This will come over the next three-to-six months, as the larger publishers develop bespoke iPad applications, similar to what the NYT has already done. These will undoubtedly include in-page image and video galleries, social media integration, and additional tools (like recipe lists, gym trainers, shopping stores etc), besides the straight content.
And the best bit, as I suggested above, is that the applications will be bought right through the AppStore, which is a proven method for charging for content. In the next few years, I doubt any other device will be able to compete with the volume of users willing to buy through this method.
There are three potential medal-winners here. In first place by a long way, we have Apple. Also, users will win. We will get an awesome viewing experience on an awesome device. And in third place, we have publishers. Those that really take advantage of the device, and manage to deliver compelling experience for which they can charge, will walk away happy. Those that can’t will rue another device that was meant to save them, but didn’t. And if they are looking to a device to save them, it won’t.
Well it starts at $499. To put that in perspective, the Kindle retails at $489. So there is a huge bang for your (not inconsiderable) buck here.
Will it work?
Well as Steve Jobs pointed out today, 75 million people already know how to use the iPad, because of its similarity to the iPhone/iPod products.
125 million people have used their credit cards through the iTunes/Appstore system.
12 billion downloads have been made through this process already.
With this history, it certainly stands a better chance than any device to create a third category between mobile phones and laptops.
If you are a magazine or newspaper publisher doing something interesting, let me know when you have something to play with. I would love to see it. And of course, we will make sure idio’s Publishing Platform outputs to iPad specific apps.