Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Apple iPad and iBooks

No one does a product launch like Apple.

Today, Steve Jobs strolled out on stage at the Yerba Beuna Center for the Arts, and unveiled the most anticipated technology product since ummm....the Ipod! Weighing in at under 2 pounds, and less than an inch thick, the Apple iPad is essentially a bigger, macho, new era version of the iPhone.

High Definition YouTube, Built in itunes service, and a bigger and brighter screen. The iPad opens the door for a new era of reading text and managing information in a portable, user friendly format.

Besides all the hype, the device is touted as a new era in portable reader devices. Apple may steal a great deal of thunder from the Kindles and E-Book readers of 2009. Jobs showed off the crystal clear imaging, the "swiping and touching" modes, and the new, very clever, iBook site. All work together within the device for downloading and reading text. From the new Steven King opus to intro to accounting textbooks, the clarity and definition makes reading on screen a very real possibility.

What does this all mean for the tweed coated glitterati of the publishing world? A change of seismic proportions. The marketing cache of iTunes, attached to boring books, along with the user friendly interface of Apple, means that content publishers are facing a similar tectonic shift of their business model that music companies have experienced in the past 8 or 9 years.

Publishers are on the bandwagon, and ready to embrace Job's new product. The five largest publishers, including McGraw Hill and Simon and Schuster, are ready to provide content to the new device. Interestingly, was Job's showing the New York Times on the new iPad to illustrate newspaper and magazine reading through the ibook site. Wasn't it last week that NYT was planning to charge for content for regular readers?

Will this change the way we acquire content? Will the iPad and iBook sites change the book selling and publishing worlds? Will newsprint newspapers become a thing of the past? All questions that need answers, along with the most important; What will it cost.

For now though, Jobs and Co have thrown down the E Reader gauntlet, leaving Amazon, Sony and Barnes and Noble to scramble and keep up.

As the great philosopher John Lennon said:

"strange days indeed"
"Most Peculiar Mama!"

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