Why the iPad is Great News for Digital Editions

We have been taking a preliminary look at the Apple announcement of the iPad. It looks like a fabulous machine and we can not wait to get our hands on one. It seems to be just right. Just right for digital editions. Here are five really good points:

  1. It should be affordable by the mass market. $500 is an excellent entry price
  2. It is large enough (nearly A4) to give a rich visual and touch experience, but still small enough and light enough to be handheld and used walk-about.
  3. Compatibility with the iPhone for users and for Apps is a great start. There will be cool new things that are specific for the iPad implementation of Apps, but the fact that every iPhone App will run on this new thing is a boon.
  4. The iPad is apparently blindingly fast, and efficient (battery life is good, much better than the iPhone)
  5. Simplicity. The iPad interface and software is very appealing, and will encourage media use. The ‘touch’, ‘geo-awareness’ and ‘orientation’ will be wonderful for web activity.

Clearly some things are ‘still to come’. Multi-tasking is surely going to be in the next O/S upgrade. We may see some more e-commerce developments: for example, it is surprising that there is not (yet) a magazine solution to match the iBooks app. The iBooks app is clearly just an eBooks store (an important distinction as it wont be able to deliver the full design-rich experience that users get from digital editions), and perhaps not yet a great eBook reading experience (see John Gruber’s cavils (see at) Typography and iBooks “I was hoping for better from Apple”). We also wonder about its embrace of publisher regional restrictions: having the app restricted to the US rather than managing the territories for each book on a title-by-title basis, as is done with other content in the iTunes system, sounds inflexible. Maybe the implementation will change when they have negotiated with more educational publishers and publishers in more regions. We think that Flash is not going to be missed. We are slightly surprised that there is no camera, not even two! We are intrigued as to how iPad use is going to impact on social networks: Twitter, Facebook etc (the effect of the iPhone has been huge so far). There will be more, there is a lot to find out, but right now we want to get our hands on a few of these iPads as soon as possible.

One of the nicest features of the iPad from the Exact Editions standpoint is that it will facilitate and encourage use of books and magazines in another portable device (the iPad will create this new category) and readers will become used to reading their stuff on the iPad, on the iPhone and on any other web device that enables them to access the content feed. Underlying all of this richness is the internet and the web services that it supports. Publishers need to understand the opportunity that this presents. The same stuff can be accessed, searched and read any-way the user wants. A lot of them will want to do it on Apple’s new device, and a lot of them will be buying.

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