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Industry Insight

iPad Stirs Up Change, but Who Will Benefit?

I have spent hours looking for the perfect article that matches or at least parallels my first impression of the iPad.

By Bob Sacks
Published: January 28, 2010

I have spent hours looking for the perfect article that matches or at least parallels my first impression of the iPad. Many are laughing at the name; I say get over it. It really does not matter that people can and have made fun of it. I promise you that the humor of the name will be meaningless in just a few months, if not days.

The real question is, has Apple succeeded in making a new sector in the reading/Internet/mobile information market. My first impression is, yes they have. I have not held it, used it or know the true functionality of the device, but I am very impressed by what I saw today.

The real question is, what, if any, is the impact to the publishing industry. The answer is huge in my opinion - huge in the actual concept of the iPad as the first of a new generational type of reader. It's a bird, it's a plane, it's a computer, and it is an e-reader. It is actually all of the above.

The very first thing I told my wife Carol is to look at this really cool, new state-of-the-art device and now try to imagine it as an instant antique. Yes, that is right; it is still just the beginning of a new communication platform. It is not like the Gutenberg press. The press was invented and stayed the same for almost 600 years. Not so the computer nor the iPad. They were invented, and then immediately became an obsolete, soon-to-be-surpassed tool/product.

So, let's watch the still forming functionality of this product with a careful eye. No mention was made today of magazines. Why? I believe that they were just not ready for the public release. No offence to the New York Times, which was displayed, but anything they can do, we magazines can do. The demonstration of the iBook was brilliant, both in the visual display and the page-flipping normality.

All in all, I was impressed and think it is a killer product. One of the things that I think is part of the genius is the price. The basic price of only $499 is staggering for what you get. The unlimited data download is equally addictive and affordable at $29.99.

I will reserve my right to a full endorsement until I get my hands on one, and can then determine if I have succumbed to the hype of an excellent presentation or the excellence of a visionary product.

 

Discussion

By Martin on Jan 29, 2010

The showing of the apple iPad itself was not that revolutionary I would say. What really is going to be the revolutionary part is the drive and acceleration to digital displayed content. I work in the printing/graphic communications industry but don’t get any magazines or newspaper subscriptions. Instead I usually spend over an hour a day reading news from websites that have been traditional TV stations, magazines, and newspapers.

I have not purchased a Kindle because I am less interested in books but more interested in the relatively current content often found in magazines and newspapers and instant access to news historically delivered though radio then TV and finally the internet.

Already there are multiple ways to get download versions of books for the iPad and it’s not even for sale yet, if the same multichannel openness becomes available with magazines I don’t see if it matters if it’s an iPad, laptop, or desktop. It’s making content available easier and faster and more portable then what print can deliver.

The height of a stack of ½ a dozen magazine subscriptions for a year is fairly tall. With the iPad it is less then an inch thick and way more portable. Being able to see magazine content in color, with pop up videos, polls, and discussion boards I don’t see how that type of interactive media won’t destroy a static magazine and newspaper industry.

It may be apple that allows a person to take part in this transition first which may cause me the get one but again the reason is really just for the access to digital displayed content and less on the device. As these channels expand to any display there is no reason for me to specifically buy an updated version from apple a few years down the road. I would even be willing to pay for some digitally delivered magazines. With no paper, printing, and mailing costs I think $5 annual digital magazine subscriptions could be possible. For those that don’t want to pay the content can feature more ads and be free.

That being said it will be interesting to see how successful the Quad and Woldcolor merger will be in 5 and 10 years. I really can’t see any companies increasing their volume in printed magazines, catalogs, and directories with rising postage costs when digital media can be faster, more up to date, and reach more people for a lower cost.

 

By Rick Rolleman on Jan 29, 2010

I find these comments quite interesting being in the print business. I too am looking to get a feel for the Ipad to see how it will affect the way we will do print business in the future.I suspect print will compliment the electronic versions of magazines or vise versa.
I suggest it will not take very long to get a feel for that direction.

 

By Clint Bolte on Jan 29, 2010

It seems ironic that this device forces the imagination to consider all of the applications that the iPAD is not initially intended to do. And yet clearly could and will be able to achieve in a short window of time.

I agree that part of the genius is the entry price level. Buy it now, play with it, learn fringe applications, give it to your mother-in-law, and buy the more robust version ... each year if need be.

I wrote an article last year hypothesizing a new business model following the wholesale magazine distributor pricing dispute, i.e., a viable color electronic distribution tool would send them to the happy hunting grounds along side and almost as quickly as the printed encyclopedia.

It's natural to assume a negative impact on Quad and all mag printers since that is in this week's news. However, the entity whose ship is running aground with this potential distribution easement is the USPS. While 1st class is their cash cow, standard mail and particularly mags and catalogs are their literal backbone.

Will be interesting to see what new business model they discuss in Nashville at the National Postal Forum. If PMG Potter ignors or downplays the iPAD issue, that will say a lot.

The exclusive with AT&T may seem like a disappointment, but all telecoms will naturally get in on this one before long.

 

By Brad Buchanan on Jan 29, 2010

Apple strength has always been providing a more intuitive way for people to interact with technology. As examples, look to the Mac operating system and to the iPod and iPhone. Each of these were successful because they made technology easy to use.

The iPad will be successful because it enables people to interact with information using only their fingertips. Eliminate a mouse and a bulky keyboard. Navigate with your hands on a screen held in your lap and the internet can be intimate and engaging. The application possibilities are endless.

 

By Curtis Johnson on Jan 31, 2010

We benefit from this innovation. Access to information is a key to a better civilization. Printers have served this vital role; communication has evolved from oral, to written, to printed, to broadcasted, to interactive. All forms still exist; they only share a smaller part of the communication pie. This evolution of communication has made rapid changes since the personal computer; the iPad will bring even more access to this digital renaissance.

 

By Michael J on Feb 01, 2010

Curtis,
I think you make an important point. "All forms still exist; they only share a smaller part of the communication pie." Given how fast the pie is growing, it should be a bright picture going forward.

 

By Clint Bolte on Feb 02, 2010

As software apps continue to explode (there are 1,400 now compatible with the iPAD), the incremental value-add from this tool will draw advertising and other revenue sources that will look to buy a truck load of iPADs and give them away for simply agreeing to subscribe for a year or such.

The other 8 e-readers, i.e., Amazon's Kindle, pale in comparison due their monochrome limitation. Publishers hate the pricing power of Amazon which robs the content provider of valuable profit margin on books. The iPAD increases publishers' margins by eliminating the costs of entire physical tasks - printing, paper, postage, warehousing, middle men distribution vendors.

Another wonderful application and problem resolution by the iPAD is in higher education. A frustrating problem borne by all in-plants is the policing of the copyright clearance process for the CoursePaks, which the in-plant produces, for a growing number of college courses. These select book chapters, article reprints, etc. compiled by the professor have been eliminating the casebound college text book retailing for $80+. Ironically the cpaks are not much cheaper due to the royalty payments required.

Then the six frat brothers - all in the same course - buy one course pak and xerox 5 copies. Surprisingly other countries, Canada for example, all wink at the US copyright laws resulting in minimal revenue to publishers/authors.

Colleges and universities could include iPADs in the registration costs for students just as they have made "good deals" on computers with no opt out possibility. Imbedded security software will prevent students from copying and exchanging PDFs of course paks from their iPADs. This assures copyright revenue streams to pub/auth and at a reduced cost to students because of no printing or wasted excess inventory.

 

By Clint Bolte on Feb 02, 2010

As software apps continue to explode (there are 1,400 now compatible with the iPAD), the incremental value-add from this tool will draw advertising and other revenue sources that will look to buy a truck load of iPADs and give them away for simply agreeing to subscribe for a year or such.

The other 8 e-readers, i.e., Amazon's Kindle, pale in comparison due their monochrome limitation. Publishers hate the pricing power of Amazon which robs the content provider of valuable profit margin on books. The iPAD increases publishers' margins by eliminating the costs of entire physical tasks - printing, paper, postage, warehousing, middle men distribution vendors.

Another wonderful application and problem resolution by the iPAD is in higher education. A frustrating problem borne by all in-plants is the policing of the copyright clearance process for the CoursePaks, which the in-plant produces, for a growing number of college courses. These select book chapters, article reprints, etc. compiled by the professor have been eliminating the casebound college text book retailing for $80+. Ironically the cpaks are not much cheaper due to the royalty payments required.

Then the six frat brothers - all in the same course - buy one course pak and xerox 5 copies. Surprisingly other countries, Canada for example, seem to wink at the copyright laws resulting in minimal revenue to publishers/authors.

Colleges and universities could include iPADs in the registration costs for students just as they have made "good deals" on computers with no opt out possibility. Imbedded security software will prevent students from copying and exchanging PDFs of course paks from their iPADs. This assures copyright revenue streams to pub/auth and at a reduced cost to students because of no printing or wasted excess inventory.

 

By Stella on Feb 02, 2010

If you're interested in the opinion of a "lay" person (i.e., I am a reader, but not a publisher) ... I would/will buy the iPad - or any similar device - in a minute as soon as it allows me to get all of the magazine subscriptions I have now (over a dozen) electronically, and in color so that they "look like" the hard copy; I will even pay the same annual subscription price for the e-version as the hard-copy subscription. I just want to be rid of tossing the magazines into the landfill when I'm done reading them ... and I only read a magazine once.

I have a kindle 2, and love it - for reading books. I would not consider the kindle DX (the large one) for magazines, because it's not color, and would not give me the experience of seeing the "real" magazine.

Just my two cents' worth ...

 

By Jos Kabouw on Feb 05, 2010

Dear All
With great interests I have been reading this forum comments and about the iPad that will in the future change a big part of our industry.
Things are changing and have been since a long time, since the personal computer age has started. Mobile content is the key and the devices will help maek use of it.
Important is to know the good news print is dead! They way we print today is dying slowly but certainly.
Print is reborn in the digital form, it is there by the masses, from the masses and to the masses. Example visit www.lulu.com and publish you book!
Gutenberg was the initiator of it all by his invention and technology of mass production. The press is the tool to get there today for over 300 years, which is exceptional, now the tools are changing. Apple has one and there are others, just like many new things it will take some time for the people to start making use of it and then take more advantage of it.
BUT Print ins not DEAD it is just being REBORN, that is even the better news!!
You then print it, in what you need on the substrate whether it is either paper, or a ipad or …..
Print what you need when need where you need.
Today tomorrow looks bright and shining.
Enjoy your weekend.

When in the world I have had this dream before that I could express my thoughts to so many many people out there in the world?

The answer to all of us is in front of us!!

 

By Keith Stoner on Feb 11, 2010

Apple would like us to think they own the new "printing press". I am not sure content providers will line up to pay Apple to “print” for them. Google has this figured out. I am not sure the ipad is a real game changer. Time will tell.

 

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