What The iPad Means For Media Distribution In The Future

Published by 58 Comments

Many years ago (almost five years ago in fact) I wrote an article about what the music industry might look like in a digital distributed world.

My premise was that thanks to networked portable devices and the Long Tail, bands would survive because distribution networks would allow them to reach their fans much easier. In effect, I was preempting the arrival of the iPhone and stating something similar to Kevin Kelly’s concept of 1,000 true fans being enough for a creator (like an artist, author or band, etc) to survive.

You can read the full article here –

The Music Industry Evolution – How Localisation, Social Networks, Niche Markets and the Long Tail Will Change Music Forever

In summary, I talked about having some kind of portable device you could take to you local gig to purchase music by the band playing right in front of you. No longer would the band need to go through a big label and no longer did the fan need to head down to the local shop to buy a DVD, which in the case of the small fan-base artist, probably wasn’t even available in the shop.

I was talking back then in theory about what is true today. We have iPhones and similar devices with access to the web and iTunes that we can purchase music with, and music artists don’t have to be super-popular to survive, they just need a hardcore fan base, just like a blogger can do well with a small fan-base, relatively speaking (I’m one such example).

Now We Have The iPad

iPad with Steve Jobs - Click For More ImapgesIf there was one thing I didn’t see coming, though it probably was more obvious than I thought all those years ago since iTunes and the iPod already existed, it was that Apple would be the dominating force for the introduction of these technologies. They’re doing it again with the iPad.

Of course the iPad is yet to be proven a success, but seeing its release did give me a little portent into a possible future, which I for one would like to see eventuate.

Before I explain the future I see, if you’ve never heard of the iPad, go check it out here at the Huffington Post –

Apple iPad Review (PHOTOS, VIDEO)

The possibilities of a device like this are significant, too many to talk about here comprehensively. This device isn’t quite a laptop, but it’s more functional than an iPhone. It can run programs in full screen, which is quite usable, unlike an iPhone in some situations, yet isn’t quite as robust as a personal computer. It’s light and thin, so can easily fit into a backpack or bag, but won’t slide into your pocket.

For me, the real insight was how this device is going to change the game, is in the consumption of text based media. No doubt video and audio will play a big part in how people will use their iPads, but I think we might finally have a device that will one day replace the newspaper and book, or at least go as mainstream as these mediums are (replacement will never be complete as there will always be a group of people who prefer the old-fashioned models).

When I first saw the iPad I immediately had a Star Trek moment. If you’re a Trek fan then you know the little pad devices that were used on the show, which not surprisingly, look a lot like the iPad. Back in 2005 I wrote about a Nokia web-enabled pad device, but it was a bit premature, with Apple once again looking to enter the market with the game-changer, though that’s no guarantee for the iPad at this stage.

We’ve had the Amazon Kindle for a while now, which is a great device, but I don’t think it’s as exciting as the iPad because it’s a little too one-dimensional and it just doesn’t look cool. Focus is good, but in this case with the iPad, multi-functionality goes along way. I wasn’t that excited about the Kindle, but I can see where the iPhone would come in handy and could very quickly become a must-have device, or perhaps a future incarnation of it will be – it’s just does too much cool stuff not to have one, and it’s affordable.

The Newspaper of the Future

So here’s the image that immediately jumped into my head when I first saw the iPad…

I saw a coffee shop, with tables and chairs outside, not that different to our current daily rest spot. The one significant difference is that every table had a iPad like device available and instead of reading the newspaper, people were reading the newspaper in digital format on the iPad.

I saw this eventuating in two possible ways -

  1. The iPad, or it’s successor more likely, becomes so standard it’s like a television and everyone has one, so you pull it out at the coffee shop to read the latest news by downloading any newspaper in any language from around the world. That’s not its only purpose of course, but due to the array of functions and affordability, not having an iPad will be the unusual situation. Since they are more portable and affordable than most laptops, more people will have them.
  2. Or…

  3. Instead of everyone personally purchasing an iPad, they will come down in cost so much that manufacturing the device will be negligible, and coffee shops will provide them for free to use – and not just coffee shops, you can basically use these devices everywhere and anywhere as standard interfaces into the digital world. They will be tools available to anyone at all times in all locations and intrinsically have no value, so there won’t be any reason to steal them.

    In this case, our patron at the coffee shop simply picks up the device and reads the very latest news from the New York Times, or the Sydney Morning Herald or Toronto Star, or virtually any media they choose and leaves it there when they finish, like we do with paper newspapers today. Thanks to things like cloud computing, the device won’t provide personalization, it will only be the interface into the digital world, with your settings and files all stored online.

I like the idea of option two better, as it means information would flow more easily and there would be no cost to “get connected”. The devices would be free because they would be funded by commercial business, both large and small, who thanks to the adoption rate of these devices, could target media to virtually any type of person on the planet. This would be like having Google AdWords, banners, video advertising, etc that we have now, but with the entire world accessible to target with media. You could even target your ads or content based on where a person was using their “pad”.

It’s an ambitious image, but I don’t see it that far off. There’s a lot of little details that need to eventuate, including finding profitable models for newspapers, the challenge of ad-blindness killing response rates, technology dropping in cost and network infrastructure rolling out across the planet so global portable high-speed access is a reality, but it’s all doable.

I for one hope something like this happens because it means far less paper usage, which is a good thing for our trees. That only leaves us with the challenge of how to power all these devices. I expect being so small, eventually having some kind of solar power panel on the device, or making them kinetic like wristwatches, so you just move them around or shake them a few times to create enough power to use them for a session, are possible solutions, if technology takes us there.

No matter what happens, it’s an exciting time to be alive – technology is advancing at an incredible pace and what used to be science fiction is becoming reality.

Yaro Starak
Predicting

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58 Comments

  • The only issue is of course Apples say in everything
    They will make sure that any information that flows, flows at a profit to them, much like how you can’t just use your iPhone to copy and paste music to and from, and how everything is done through iTunes and App store with shares going to Apple. the iPad will be limited in its capability and things which we currently dont expect to pay for, such as news articles, will become normal to charge for.

    What is really going to kick major butt in the next 5 years is Google’s entry into the Pad and Phone market, their use of Android open source platform will mean the devices can essentially do anything…

    Nonetheless, that is still 3-5 years away and I am going to be getting an iPad in the mean time to join my iPhone and iMac :D

  • Yaro, I think your predictions are correct – and the Books App Store, a great idea, Internet marketers can sell their books there, perhaps?

    Could be awesome, to have an ebook released there. Could be great.

  • It will be interesting to see, given the world’s experience with iTunes, if other manufacturers like Google move faster this time, to compete with iPad, before iBooks takes over the world of the written word.

    • Yes, Metoos are not too far away. What Apple has consistently done is to keep introducing new products and keep innovating on them to stay ahead of the game and they will do the same with this too.

      • Steve Jobs is a visionary, and I completely agree with your assessment of the iPad. In its first release, though, it is much like the Apple 1: it is very cool, but it is expensive–if you include WiFi, 3G, 64GB and an AT&T contract, it pushes $1,000, out-the-door (my 1978 Apple 1 cost $666–very expensive in those days, too). In addition, the iPad fits awkwardly into the niche between an iPhone and a MacBook: it’s either an iPhone on steroids or an anemic MacBook.

      • seo

        What is really going to kick major butt in the next 5 years is Google’s entry into the Pad and Phone market, their use of Android open source platform will mean the devices can essentially do anything…

  • Technology is moving at razor fast speed. Innovation is one key ingredient to come up with the next great idea. IPads, IPhones, IPods, etc. are we collecting these gadgets because we really need them or just to say we have them? I do believe that soon we will get to a place where physical print will no longer be required nor need.eed them or just to say we have them?

  • I’m on the side that the iPad is going to be a game changer.

    Many of my developer friends are not, they think it’s stupid.

    I’d like to have one about 4 foot wide hanging on my wall, frankly.

    • The ipad is so bulky its a like carrying bigfoots foot with you. I would have thought it would be more suitable for the gamer rather than a programmer. I do feel that google’s innovation may do much better and I will certainly hold on till then

  • I just think that the iPad is a bulky iPhone. I’m sure it will be popular just because of Apple’s cult following, but there are many things that need to be improved before I would ever consider an iPad.

  • Jim

    Yaro… Your visions are right on :)

    Having worked for Apple for over 9 years, I can tell you that you have just had a tiny peek of what’s to come. The iPad will be a game changer. I have seen the future and I am going there!!

  • Your Message
    Yaro–When I saw the iPad introduction this week I was mightily impressed. I got my first computer as a PhD graduate student at UCLA in 1979. It was a kit, an Apple 1 with 256k memory, sent by Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak from their garage! I was a charter member of the Apple Club at UCLA, and I’ve been an “apple guy” ever since then. I’m writing this on a MacBook Air, and checking emails on my iPhone.

    Steve Jobs is a visionary, and I completely agree with your assessment of the iPad. In its first release, though, it is much like the Apple 1: it is very cool, but it is expensive–if you include WiFi, 3G, 64GB and an AT&T contract, it pushes $1,000, out-the-door (my 1978 Apple 1 cost $666–very expensive in those days, too). In addition, the iPad fits awkwardly into the niche between an iPhone and a MacBook: it’s either an iPhone on steroids or an anemic MacBook.

    Yet, I see the iPad as a transitionary device. As it’s technology develops in future versions, as Apple’s product line is reshaped and realigned, and as its price plummets (as the price of new technology always does), the idea of the iPad will change the way we do things.

    Steve Jobs once again reshapes the future. How cool is that!

    Bill

  • Hey great post Yaro.

    I think behind the iPad is a great wave of press to get the big boys (new york times, wall street journal) a breath of fresh air and adapt to the digital age. This can be a good way, but it’s not a definite one. The kindle is helping these route but it’s not enough.

    Many more devices will come and make a segment on the market.

    Good post.

  • Yup, I see what you mean Yaro. You do know that for the time being though that Apple will À la carte you into each article you want to read and you can no longer multitask like you used to..

    • seo

      While I own Ipods, a MacBook Pro the iPad just does nothing for me as a device. What I think it does is re-ignite the tablet PC market. I would say the HYPE behind the iPad does far more than the device itself which, as most people have commented, is basically a GIANT iPod Touch.

  • [...] You can check the full post here [...]

  • It will be interesting to see where this goes but I just hope technology doesn’t completely take over everything we as humans do on a daily basis. That may be a bit odd to hear as most of us use computers on a daily basis but I just feel that we need to leave some things alone. Not sure what exactly, just some things.

    I haven’t heard too much about the iPad but am checking into it more as it sounds like something with a lot of capabilities and will bring a lot of good to the world.

    We’ll see.

    What do you think?

  • While I own Ipods, a MacBook Pro the iPad just does nothing for me as a device. What I think it does is re-ignite the tablet PC market. I would say the HYPE behind the iPad does far more than the device itself which, as most people have commented, is basically a GIANT iPod Touch.

    I don’t like being a neigh sayer, I was excited at what Apple might bring to the table, – sadly the 1st GEN iPad very much under-delivers on the expectations.

    Gen-2 Might change my mind.

    • I haven’t heard too much about the iPad but am checking into it more as it sounds like something with a lot of capabilities and will bring a lot of good to the world.

  • Hey Yaro,

    I vote for option 2 as well and I think the chances of happening is quite high. Just like iphone that make available free for lower end (when you sign with telco), probably iPad might be offer free when one subscribe to any electronic newpapaer from publishing houses.

    Online advertisements could then rocket sky high in term of volume as people starts to have iPad to read online.

  • I usually think Apple stuff is cool, although due to being overpriced I’ve never bought anything from them, but I really don’t see the appeal of the iPad, apart from the interface and being nice and light.

    It’s alright for Jobs to slag off netbooks, but a netbook will run any windows app, that’s tens of thousands of apps, many of which are free and I already know how to use. A netbook also has much better connectivity, a real keyboard (not a seperate keyboard dock at additional cost), far more storage for the price etc. I can also change the OS on a netbook. The latest netbooks like the EEE 1201N with the dual core CPUs and nVidia Ion (8400M GPU) even have respectible gaming performance (search for 1201N on youtube). I’d take features and versatility over cool anyday.

    Till then,

    Jean

  • I agree with Jean. Apple has really cool things but they’re usually pretty overpriced. Wait a couple of months and there will be a huge price decrease and that’s usually when I visit the store to buy mine. Also, I don’t like to buy the first generation of things because they always come out with a better one next year…

    • Flash memory prices are coming down quickly so I see this size of these DOUBLING and QUADRUPLING quickly. Only 64 gb? You gotta be kidding me? What if I loaded it with videos?

    • It is like a new movie. There are some who insist on seeing immediately on release so that they can talk about it and some who will wait till the reviews are in before they do, and others who will wait till it is available in CDs or whatever and see it at home. I belong to the last category but this is one instance, when I think that I might just move to the second category, of course when the price comes down!

  • Yaro great insight. A lot of things I never thought about.

    It’s amazing to look back just ten years ago. I thought I was cool because I could play snake on my phone. I never thought we would have a device like the iPhone so soon.

    Also, it’s comical how many people are bashing the iPad. Give it a few releases and your prediction (#2) will likely coming true.

    • seo

      Ya I remember how you would be the coolest person in the room if your phone had snake on it! Good times.

  • I like the iPad in that it is sleek, shinny, and new, and with the understanding that it is more intended to add to, but not replace current technology we already have.

  • Now it’s the waiting game. I do agree with your utopian view Yaro. My chief prediction is that it will kick the tablet market fair-and-square in the bum. It’s been such an uncool space for so long. Kindle made it kind of cool. The iPad will set the ball rolling.

    • seo

      It’s amazing to look back just ten years ago. I thought I was cool because I could play snake on my phone. I never thought we would have a device like the iPhone so soon.

  • Personally I don’t think the iPad is going to take off. It’s not a phone, it’s not a PC or Mac so I’m finding it a bit difficult to see where it fits in.

    • seo

      I’m a little skeptic about the iPad. It’s quite expensive if you compare it to other devices like the Kindle and I don’t see the iPad bringing in a lot of value. You could argue the iPhone came into the market with a lot of competition, even more competition that what the iPad will encounter. However I see that both the iPhone and the IPod have a multi target audience, while a reading device is more specialized. Let me run you through this idea.

  • Yaro, I love this device’s POTENTIAL but I won’t buy the 1st version of it.

    $500 – $900 w/ sales taxes = not cheap for buying multiple versions.

    Flash memory prices are coming down quickly so I see this size of these DOUBLING and QUADRUPLING quickly. Only 64 gb? You gotta be kidding me? What if I loaded it with videos?

    I mean, lets put this into perspective. The device is 10x bigger than an IPOD classic that has a 160 Gb hard drive! This thing can play video on a MUCH bigger screen

    Don’t get me started on the big MISS #2, the videocamera. A slot has been found for future versions and this, IMO, is the BIG, GIANT #FAIL of this round 1 version. If they gave people the ability to Skype people using this it would get VERY interesting.

    It is a content consuming device, and a slick looking one at that, but I think they failed in two very important aspects (more memory and the videocamera for communication, not content creation).

    Dan Ross
    @BetterBizIdeas

  • I think IPAD is one of those gadgets that you either really like or you don’t.

  • Hi Yaro,

    I’m a little skeptic about the iPad. It’s quite expensive if you compare it to other devices like the Kindle and I don’t see the iPad bringing in a lot of value. You could argue the iPhone came into the market with a lot of competition, even more competition that what the iPad will encounter. However I see that both the iPhone and the IPod have a multi target audience, while a reading device is more specialized. Let me run you through this idea.

    I’m a Colombian, and this is a third world country (I don’t care for this terminology, but let’s go on). Although we have many problems in my country, the literacy rate ir high, not 100% but near. However, the book reading quota is pretty low. However, even the lowest paid workers have a basic cell phone and many own MP3/MP4 devices. They might not be Apple brands, but they are potential buyers. But since people don’t’ read that much as they talk or hear music, I’m not convinced of the success of the iPad. And this happens in many countries. In first world countries this might be a little bit different, but I’m almost certain people talk over the phone and hear music, much more than what they read, specially books.

    Just one more remark. My country and I know this is true for many countries, have had almost exponential growths in the number of computer available, mainly laptops. However I guess people see it as a working tool. If the iPad had Word, Excel, PowerPoint apps, etc., maybe I’ll be writing the opposite here. But since it doesn’t, I’m sticking with this remark.

    Cheers!

  • This is accompanied by a shot of the frame alongside the camera from a MacBook. It’s a perfect fit. The only thing that seems weird on this last point is that Apple is already sending out parts. The much-hyped launch of Apple’s new tablet-style computer yesterday has done little to change my belief that it’s a solution looking for a problem. Apple’s says the iPad is a “magical and revolutionary device at an unbelievable price”. But who really needs it? iPhone users already have access to the thousands of apps in the Apple App Store. In ipad 10 major problem in all of them 1st is a Battery life. “Up to 10 hours” is unlikely to be more than a claim in real-world situations. Turn on wi-fi or 3G and expect to need to charge it twice a day. and 2nd is No camera. That means no video chat or Skype video calling. Some people use such things a lot, I’m reliably informed. This 2 are a most problematic thing.

  • I think this will be a hit. Many would buy this, but the next version is much better like the iphone 3gs, but still this is a good thing to buy.

    Marvin

  • Adding a camera with this would be better, and adding usb port

    marvin

  • [...] be squished between your two thumbs.I also liked the fact that this takes us another step in the digital media distribution medium. Looking forward to the day when we no longer read inewspapers, as “neat” as [...]

  • I doubt it will replace newspapers. Can you kill a fly with an iPad? No. Can you fold it up and put it in your back pocket? No, you need to carry it and hope nothing scratches the screen.

  • Apple has simply done it again. The idea behind the product is what matters and with this latest introduction, they have once again established that this is where they will keep leading the pack and change the rules of the game as they go along.

    • seo

      Adding a camera with this would be better, and adding usb port

  • Giving us a good price this would be a hit

    Marvin

  • Ipad has many lacking features too like less USB post and webcam. But i think they will include them with time.

  • This is not designed for people like us, who are power users. It is designed for the people that just want something simple to carry around, that works when they want it to, without any hassles. I’ve been through too many bad hard drives, memory chips, overheating problems, bad case fans, bad optical drives, faulty drivers, viruses, spyware, system hogging run in the background leeching software for anyone to convince me that the iPad/ipod/iphone isn’t as good as a netbook/laptop. I’ve had my ipod touch for a year now and it has never locked up on me once. Ever. I cant say the same for any one of the computers in my house, or my work. Or my DVR for that matter. Man, I wish apple made a DVR. :-)

    Till then,

    Jean

  • excellent predictions yaro , i agree with and now i am happier because my main source of income is selling ebooks, i guess the book industry will favor ebooks in the future

  • I think it looks like an over sized iPhone, and because of it’s size may flop. but I’ve been wrong before. That said, Steve looks alot better and heavier lately huh?

  • I have heard a lot of negative things being posted about the iPad. I for one absolutely think this tool is great. I will be buying one for sure. I think it fits a certain niche perfectly. Imagine the mobile markets, photographers, event planners, real estate agents. I can see those being very big for this.

  • I’m not too sure about the iPad. Looks a lot like an enlarged iPod Touch, and it’s a shame that it runs on pretty much the same OS as the iPhone. However, I like the price tag, and some of the features of it (keyboard, multi-touch etc.) seem pretty neat.

  • Your vision of the future looks very promising =]

  • I don’t agree with your predictions respectfully. He didn’t create anything new. He never did. All of his innovation comes from design. The power of the brand outweighs the quality.

    Ipad = Unfoldable Laptop?

    If this thing becomes super popular like the Ipod, it would be because of the design or the brand.

  • Hi guys

    i must admit i am tempted myself to get one for my business and this post has really laid things out for me to think about.

    kind regards

    sam
    X

  • In my opinion it will take quite some time for the ipad to catch on. Unfortunately too many attractive features were left out of the current models. This includes things like cell phone capabilities and flash support. It won’t be until this extra features are included that people will actually want one. In the meantime I think its popularity will be mostly restricted to certain industries like health care, engineers, etc.

  • I love how you can dream and look into the future. I hope the IPad one day will catch on like that. I don’t think it would deter me from purchasing my own. I would now but I like to wait a bit after things come out and get the 2nd or 3rd gen.

  • SEO

    i must admit i am tempted myself to get one for my business and this post has really laid things out for me to think about.

  • I haven’t heard too much about the iPad but am checking into it more as it sounds like something with a lot of capabilities and will bring a lot of good to the world.

  • I don’t agree with your predictions respectfully. He didn’t create anything new. He never did. All of his innovation comes from design. The power of the brand outweighs the quality.

    Ipad = Unfoldable Laptop?

    If this thing becomes super popular like the Ipod, it would be because of the design or the brand.

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