Is the Apple Tablet the future of magazines?

apple tabletRumours have been circulating about Apple‘s soon-to-be-released product, tentatively called the Apple Tablet. A recent report claims the device will measure 10 inches diagonally – putting it somewhere between the pocket-sized iPhone and desktop iMac. There will be no mouse or external keyboard, and everything will be controlled through a touch screen. Apple is expected to release the Tablet by Jan. 19, 2010. 

The image above is an artist’s rendering of the fabled Tablet, provided by Gizmodo.

So what is unique about it? Ars Technica reports that the device could serve as a digital replacement for printed books and magazines. But from the sounds of it, the latter has the most potential, especially considering Steve Job‘s opinion on e-readers. The NY Times, in “The Passion of Steve Jobs“, records the CEO saying, “It doesn’t matter how good or bad the product is, the fact is that people don’t read anymore.” 

Apple is interested in collaborating with magazines, offering a standardised platform for magazine purchase and consumption, with multi-media content like iTunes LP and iTunes ExtraGizmodo reports that:

The eventual goal is to have publishers create hybridised content that draws from audio, video, interactive graphics in books, magazines and newspapers, where paper layouts would be static. And with release dates for Microsoft’s Courier set to be quite far away and Kindle stuck with relatively static e-ink, it appears that Apple is moving towards a pole position in distribution of this next-generation print content.

TabletThe magazine industry, much like of the printed book and newspaper, knows that it must go digital in order to survive. However, they’re being very careful not to let Apple call all of the shots, like it did with the music industry. Magazines are seeking to maintain control over pricing and customer information (valuable for advertising sales). Advertising Age, in “Magazine Industry Looks to Create ITunes for Print“, writes:

Music executives didn’t see much choice when Steve Jobs signed them up to sell songs and albums through iTunes, a newspaper executive recalled. “People put their hands out and let him put the handcuffs on them,” he said. “The same thing now is happening with the publishing industry. They are afraid to do anything, to say anything. At the same time, they’re saying, ‘Let’s see what other options we have.'” 

Would you use this product? Do you think its a viable replacement for magazines? If the beauty of the iPhone is its convenient size, and the beauty of the iMac is its huge screen…what perks would the Tablet actually offer? No one is 100% sure that Apple will actually release this product…I guess they must be asking themselves these same questions.



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13 responses to “Is the Apple Tablet the future of magazines?

  1. Damien Daunt

    I got excited when I first saw the tablet (even tweeted my excitement) but my initial excitement’s worn off, partly because the tablet seems like an larger-scale iPhone (the video doesn’t really set the functionality of the tablet apart much from what you can do on the iPhone) but mostly because Microsoft’s new rumoured Courier device looks so much cooler. Check out the video at:
    The Courier is more like an open book, the web can be on the lefthand page, your working document on the right so you can pull content straight from the web onto the page you’re working on. It seems like it’ll be great fit for Google’s new magazine flip technology.
    Sidenote: does anyone else get the feeling that Apple consistently think of themselves as tech pioneers that drag other industries (music producers, now magazine companies) into step with their developments? I guess their attitude may be no different from Google’s: participate or not, it’s your loss.
    But to say: “It doesn’t matter how good or bad the product is, the fact is that people don’t read anymore” ?! Maybe I’ll read the NYT article before I pass judgement on Jobs.

  2. Matthew Walker

    As I discussed in my blog, ‘The Death of Newspapers?’, I think there’s a certain degree of nostalgia that’s associated with print. Be it newspapers, magazines or books, I doubt they’ll be ‘extinct’ in the next few years. Touch-pad based notebooks have been around for years but as yet they haven’t provided a viable alternative to the ‘nostalgia-filled’ traditional print publications. But maybe the Apple Tablet’s the answer. Using the incredible popularity of the iPod, then the iPhone as a measure, maybe the tablet will be an innovation.

    If you ask me though the the tablet looks more like a giant, more expensive iPhone than an ‘viable replacement for magazines’.

    • reneespeak

      Yeah, I see how e-readers can’t completely simulate the experience of reading a book: holding, smelling and marking it up. But I figure those things aren’t as important to a magazine reader. I’d guess that the colourful pictures and up-to-date stories would be valued more. And with the possibility for video to be included, there’s lots more appeal added to the medium. But your right about it being basically a beefy, pricier verson of the iPhone – and one that won’t even fit in your pocket.

  3. Lisa Monique

    I suppose if it was marketed correctly, it could really take off.

    Have you noticed all these other brands trying to use Apple’s ‘i’ in their advertising and marketing??


    I also saw a navman tram add today that read –
    ‘i spy with my little eye… everything!’
    With a lowercase Apple ‘i’

    It looks like Apple is selling other people’s products, so I don’t imagine they would have a problem selling their own.

  4. jensblog22

    It seems kind of big to carry around. I think I’d prefer ordinary magazines and newspapers. I mean, I’ve tried reading on those e-book readers and while I don’t mind it because you can store so many books in one gadget, the Apple tablet looks a bit clunky.

    • reneespeak

      I know, I love dog-earing, rolling up, throwing around and generally abusing magazines – can’t do that with an $800 computer. The Tablet would totally change magazine-consuming behaviour. Then again, it’d sure be cool to watch videos embedded within the magazine, or listen to audio/video from interviews. I wonder how they’ll replicate the perfume samples!

  5. i would love to buy one if i have the money. i don’t use portable book reader or mobile to read things because i hate small screen. if i get to have a book-size screen, i’d love to try it. not to mention you can have all the multimedia stuff in the magazines now.

  6. reneespeak

    Yeah, me too! Why does publishing pay so little!? You never know, maybe in three years’ time it’ll cost less or there’ll be even cooler technology out there, like Microsoft Courier which Damien’s sold me on (read his comment above).

  7. Pingback: Apple iPad offers hope to print media « Reneespeak

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