After months of speculation, Steve Jobs finally revealed details of his much-anticipated Apple iPad yesterday. At 9.7 inches tall, 1.27 centimeters thick and weighing 680 grams, the iPad looks like the offspring of the MacBook and iPhone. The so-called “magical” device boasts of a multi-touch screen and vivid resolution. It lets you to surf the internet, download and listen to music using iTunes, watch videos, use the 140,000 Apple apps, send emails and read and buy books from iBookstore using the app iBooks. Prices start at US$499 and will be available in March (probably closer to June for Australia).
One of the most hotly debated issues surrounding the iPad is how it may affect the publishing industry. The last decade has seen print media’s profits wane – mostly due to improvements in technology that have drawn people to read their newspapers and magazines online and their books on e-readers like the hugely popular Amazon Kindle. While Steve Jobs doesn’t hold any romantic ideas about reading (he once told the NY Times, “It doesn’t matter how good or bad the product is, the fact is that people don’t read anymore.”), he has created a product that offers some hope to publishers. Unlike Kindle, the iPad allows for a more “traditional” reading of newspapers and magazines by maintaining the typical periodical layout and including vivid pictures. See the mock demo created by Sports Illustrated Magazine:
Revenues will increase with the help of the iTunes micro-payment model and advertisers will be willing to pay more with the promise of their ads targeting specific audiences – thanks to increased viewer data. Newsfactor predicts,
Magazine and newspaper publishing will bounce back as consumers rediscover paid subscriptions…. Publishers realize they have a very narrow window to recapture the paid subscribers they lost to the Web, and they’ll do anything to grab you with the Apple gizmo. Expect to see publishers launch visually stunning versions of their magazines with swooping typography, video insets, CNN iReporter-style news uploads, social media overlays – whatever it takes to make you think you’re seeing a magazine or newspaper like never before, so much so you’ll even want to pay for it.
ClickZ asked consumer research analyst Carl Howe about the impact the device will have on magazines and newspapers. He says, “I think it is going to revive the traditional periodical ad model. The space on the front page will cost more than space on Page 23. And yes, I think there will be pages. I really think they are going to try to use the same model that’s worked so well in print and translate it to a digital device.”
The iPad promises to change e-books as well. Mashable‘s Jennifer Van Grove quotes Steve Jobs saying yesterday, “Amazon’s done a great job of pioneering this functionality with the Kindle. We’re going to stand on their shoulders and go a little further.” Apple chose to use the free and open e-book formatting platform ePub as a means of distinguishing itself from Kindle. Its iBook app allows for instant purchase and downloading of books for sale in the iBookstore. Apple describes the process:
The iBooks app is a great, new way to read and buy books. Just download the app for free from the App Store, and you’ll be able to buy everything from classics to bestsellers from the built-in iBookstore. Once you’ve bought a book, it’s displayed on your Bookshelf. To read it, all you have to do is tap on it and it opens up. The high-resolution, LED-backlit screen displays everything in sharp, rich, color, so it’s very easy to read, even in low light.