Why the iPad Changes Everything

in iAnnouncements (F)

[prMac.com] Aarhus, Denmark - After months of speculation, Apple's CEO Steve Jobs unveiled the iPad in late January. On the surface, the iPad is a tablet computer done right; it is a form factor that Microsoft has been touting for a decade with limited success. Yet there is something distinctly different about the iPad beyond Apple's good taste and technical acumen. The iPad is not just another tablet PC.

Apple is positioning the iPad as a new category of mobile device between a smartphone and a laptop, and better at a set of key tasks than either of them. These tasks include web browsing, reading books, playing games, and more. It is a device more intimate than a laptop and more expansive than a smartphone. iPad is Apple's answer to the rapidly growing Netbook segment, but more than that, it is a new product that meets a set of consumers' demands that have been addressed through the use of a variety of devices before.

Three years ago, Apple's revolutionary product was the iPhone, which succeeded at redefining the mobile phone. Just 18 months after the launch of the App Store alongside the iPhone 3G, over 160,000 iPhone applications have been downloaded over three billion times on more than 75 million devices running the iPhone operating system (iPhone and iPod touch).

Running the iPhone OS atop a tablet form factor, the iPad has instant familiarity to the millions of iPhone and iPod touch users worldwide. Priced at an entry point of $499 US, with models supporting both Wi-Fi and 3G, the iPad is going to sell exceptionally well. Apple will be shipping the first iPad model (Wi-Fi only) on April 3rd in a select number of countries, with the 3G model following roughly one month later.

The iPad has the ability to deliver content in a variety of formats - from iPhone Apps to web sites to eBooks. Apple now has three content stores; the iTunes Store for videos, music and podcasts, the App Store for iPhone Apps, and the new iBookstore for eBooks. This diversity of options raises some interesting questions for content publishers and creators in the two-month run-up to the iPad launch. With so many options, what is the best way to deliver content on the device?

With the iPad, book publishers have two options: the iBookstore using the industry standard EPUB format similar to Amazon's Kindle, or as an alternative, the creation of iPhone App books as publishers such as O'Reilly Media, Hachette Livre, and Wiley have already done. The iBookstore, integrated with the new iBooks application, will be the more popular of the two options for book publishers due to decreased development costs and higher price points.

Newspaper and magazine publishers, on the other hand, have a less clear path. LA Weekly, one of the better known alternative newsweeklies in the United States, already offers a mobile optimized version of its website for iPhone users as well as an iPhone App focusing on where to go and what to do. Both products are ad-sponsored and are free downloads. Conde Nast recently announced the sale of almost 20,000 copies of its December 2009 and January 2010 issues of GQ on the App Store. The New York Times, which also offers a popular iPhone App of its own, took this one step further by demoing an iPad App during the product unveiling last week that more closely resembles its print product than either its web site or its existing iPhone app.

Although Apple did provide a solution for book publishers with its iBookstore and the EPUB format, it somewhat surprisingly did not do the same for newspaper and magazine publishers. Many had assumed that Apple would announce some form of publishing solution for newspapers and magazines to bring their titles to the iPad. And while The New York Times gave an impressive demo of a print-like experience of their newspaper on the iPad, it was essentially a custom iPhone app. The lack of a solution by Apple opens up a great opportunity for third parties to work with periodical publishers to build iPad and iPhone Apps for digital distribution, with both paid and ad-sponsored models available for monetization. Apple recently acquired Quattro Wireless to offer its own advertising solution for iPhone App publishers in the near future.

For iPhone App publishers, whether creating games or productivity applications, the iPad offers a much larger screen and new ways to present information. The iPad will support existing iPhone Apps, but displayed in a smaller window, not the full iPad screen. Developers wanting to present their iPhone Apps using the full screen of the iPad will need to develop iPad-specific Apps or release updates to their existing iPhone Apps with layouts for both the iPhone and the iPad. Apple has also introduced new user interface elements for the iPad that build upon the standard set currently available for the iPhone.

Mobile devices are increasingly becoming the primary way consumers are accessing the Internet, watching videos, listening to music, and playing games. Consumers are spending more time with their smartphones and less time with their desktop PCs and laptops. Content publishers and creators, in addition to brands, should be strongly considering the creation of mobile web sites and iPhone Apps to meet consumers where they are. Now with the iPad, which has a larger screen and faster performance compared with the iPhone, what can be done now that has not been possible before? With these technological advances come a set of new choices and challenges. Raven is a Keynote presenter and will be running a Workshop at DevDay for iPhone in London April 26, 2010.

DevDay for iPhone is a dedicated interactive one day conference for software developers and business professionals who want to learn how to successfully build and market iPhone applications. DevDay for iPhone is an independent event produced by Trifork Ltd. that has not been authorised, sponsored or otherwise approved by Apple Inc., iPhone is a trade mark of Apple Inc., registered in the European Union and other countries.


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