No, The Apple Tablet Won't Save Publishing Nor Will It End 'Free'

from the basic-economics,-people dept

We've been seeing an awful lot of chatter in the past couple months over the idea that some sort of "tablet" will somehow "save" the media business by suddenly making people start paying for content again. We've yet to see any sort of analysis that explains why. Nearly all of it seems to be from journalists who are involved in wishful thinking and rarely are they able to explain the reasoning. Brian Sheehan points us to the latest in this sort of thinking, an editorial by a writer for Macworld, Kirk McElhearn, which also attacks the very concept of free, which it insists needs to end. It starts out by making the claim that the Apple tablet might "save the press from its demise" and then explains that it's because it will end "free." Seriously:
At the end of a failed 15-year experiment in giving away its product, the press (newspapers and magazines) has begun to renounce free. It's slow in starting, because of the inertia of this decade and a half, but the New York Times announced recently that it would begin charging for its Website, and others are sure to follow.... But payment for Websites alone won't be enough to change newspapers' and magazines' bottom lines from red to black. Apple's tablet, however, will.
Bold claims. Let's see if they can be backed up.
It's time for free to end. Newspapers and magazines made the mistake, in the early days of the Web, of giving away their content for free, in exchange for revenue from Web advertising.
Wait, there are tons of companies that are making a ton of money off of ad supported content. Why is it time for that to end? Free was never the mistake of the publishing business. It was a combination of factors, such as not recognizing that they had much more competition than in the past, and they couldn't just sit back and ignore it, but had to build out real web presences that offered more value to their communities. But few did that. And, with newspapers in particular, the bigger problem wasn't "free," but the fact that many of them took on staggering amounts of debt that they couldn't repay. That's got nothing to do with free.
In the past few years, tens of thousands of jobs have been lost, and newspapers and magazines are cutting back and folding all across the U.S.... Yet we need the press: the fourth estate is a necessary check for our government and business. As long as free thrives, the press can't do its job correctly. Free may be good for freeloaders, but it's bad for society. Those who want things to be free forget that there are still people doing the work they get for nothing, and those people need to be paid. As the old saw goes, there ain't no such thing as a free lunch.
Oh goodness. Where to start. Just about everything above is wrong, misleading or simply ignorant of what's happening, what critics are saying and basic economics. First, yes, there are many fewer jobs in traditional journalism, but that's not due to "free," but due to a changing marketplace. That happens. Lots of people used to be employed making horse carriages. Not any more. Lots of people used to be telephone operators, connecting callers from one to another, but then the technology made it so that wasn't necessary any more. But telephony was better off because of it. Maybe we don't need all those journalists in traditional roles, but who says journalism will be worse off for it? We're seeing lots of interesting new business models developing, and many new sources of journalism.

And, while some might argue that we need "the press" (I would suggest we need journalism, which is a different thing), if that's true, then there will be business models to support it. Demand creates supply. But there are lots of "checks" on the gov't beyond the press -- and there are some pretty serious questions about how much of a "check" on the government the traditional press has been for the most part. The idea that the press can't do its job if "free" thrives is as ridiculous as it is wrong. The "press" has always been paid for via advertising. The cost of a newspaper didn't even cover the cost of printing and delivery. The money was made in advertising. Ditto for television and radio journalism. None of it is paid for. It's all "free" to the consumer. The argument that journalism can't be done if it's free to the consumer is laughable. Ditto for the claim it's "bad for society." What does that even mean? If free is bad for society then the history of the press has been bad for society.

Finally, I never understand the argument that "free" means that employees don't get paid. No one makes that claim. No one says journalists shouldn't be paid. We're just saying that publications need to come up with new business models that allow them to pay journalists.
What news agencies can't do is the added-value reporting, the analysis, opinion and in-depth reporting that we want to read to better understand, and that we need for society to thrive. It may be a coincidence, but in recent years, investigative journalism was severely lacking at a time when it was needed the most. Only when people pay for news can we have quality reporting.
Huh? Again, people have never paid for news. Arguing otherwise is pure ignorance. Also, there is more analysis, opinion and in-depth reporting going on now than ever before in history -- it's just that much of it no longer comes from traditional journalists.
To those who protest that "no one will pay for a newspaper on the Web", consider some very successful experiments in paid online content. The Wall Street Journal charges around $100 a year for full access to its Website, and plenty of businesspeople pay for this. This is because the Journal provides the kind of news that is not plentiful; people pay for the quality of the business news and analysis that they can't find elsewhere, as well as its timeliness.
Yes, people love to show the WSJ example, but the WSJ's paywall has become increasingly "leaky" as its subscriber growth has slowed. Convincing new people to sign up when they're getting plenty of free content elsewhere? Not so easy. It's easy to call the WSJ a success today, but the likelihood that it remains that way over time? Small.
I'm betting that Apple will get it right, as far as features, interface and usability are concerned. It will also be an excellent tool for reading the news. Newspapers and magazines will be able to package their content in multimedia bundles (either as apps or something similar to the iTunes LP) that will be designed for reading on a portable screen; this won't simply be web pages viewed on a smaller screen.

The key to hardware being successful is the software that supports it. One of the main advantages to Apple's tablet, as far as the press is concerned, is the iTunes Store. Since Apple already has this platform to sell and deliver that content, even on a subscription basis, readers will be able to easily buy their favorite newspapers and magazines and get them delivered instantly. They'll be cheaper than the print versions, and they'll be a lot greener too. And the iTunes Store will be able to provide a better selection than readers can find by going to individual Websites. Whether by subscription or by single issue, it'll be extremely simple to buy newspapers and magazines to read on the Apple tablet.
So that's it then? Because Apple designs a nice product people will suddenly buy? Okay. Would be great if it happens, but I doubt it will. If newspapers do lock themselves up behind a paywall or only offer paid versions on these tablets, people will just go elsewhere -- really quickly. And for those smart publications that understand this, every new paywall becomes an opportunity to build an even larger (free) audience, which will help support all kinds of business models that don't involve direct payments. I don't doubt that some people would pay for the convenience of subbing to newspapers or magazines on a tablet, but it's difficult to look at the details and see how it ever becomes a significant part of the market in any way. You simply won't get enough buyers for it to make a difference.


Reader Comments (rss)

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  1.  
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    Simon, Jan 26th, 2010 @ 1:05pm

    So by the same token...

    ..itunes & iPods must have saved the recording industry, right? So that's all good - let's forget about all these silly new laws.

     

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    Ima Fish (profile), Jan 26th, 2010 @ 1:06pm

    Timely story on the Consumerist:

    After 3 Months, Only 35 Paying Customers For Newspaper's Web Site
    Newsday is a Long Island newspaper. Some people bought it for $650 and put it behind a pay wall. Three months later, they've got 35 subscribers. Yes, 35.

     

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    Chrystal Ocean, Jan 26th, 2010 @ 1:13pm

    "Free" also in "free market"

    Interesting, isn't it, how free access to news, books, etc. isn't to be permitted, whilst the 'free market' is. Or that 'free' must somehow be regulated, yet the free market not. An unregulated, truly free market, would result in free access.

     

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    :Lobo Santo (profile), Jan 26th, 2010 @ 1:16pm

    Re:

    Did they make a return on their investment?

     

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    imbrucy (profile), Jan 26th, 2010 @ 1:18pm

    Re: "Free" also in "free market"

    You are arguing two different meanings of free. It's the classic FOSS line of free as in beer vs free as in freedom. Same word but two completely different meanings.

     

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    Ima Fish (profile), Jan 26th, 2010 @ 1:19pm

    Re: "Free" also in "free market"

    You're touching on this, but I wanted to add more.

    Copyright is in direct derogation of the free market. It is a government granted monopoly given to corporations to ensure that they do not have to compete in a free market.

    When the player piano was invented. It was not covered by copyright, thus the piano rolls did not infringe copyright.

    Did the music publishers compete with this new technology? Nope, they went to Congress which broadened their monopoly to include and subsume the new technology.

    Every single time the copyright industry is faced with competition, they sue. If they cannot sue, they have the laws extended so they can sue.

     

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    Ima Fish (profile), Jan 26th, 2010 @ 1:20pm

    Re: Re:

    Actually, the Consumerist had the number incorrect. The "paper" was actually bought for $650 million.

     

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    Josh in CharlotteNC (profile), Jan 26th, 2010 @ 1:20pm

    "Free"

    I'm sick of the word free. The word has been morphed into ambiguous meanings.

    That second quote did it in. "...of giving away their content for free, in exchange for revenue from Web advertising." Giving content in exchange for ad revenue is exactly the opposite of free. This should be obvious to TechDirt readers, but much of the wider business community wouldn't recognize it after it punched them in the face.

    I think we need a thought-raising article (hopefully picked up by more main stream sources) on the difference between "free" and "no monetary cost to end users" or a similar wording.

     

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    jsl4980 (profile), Jan 26th, 2010 @ 1:36pm

    Who's buying tablets?

    Who is buying a tablet? Call me ignorant but I do not see the appeal of a laptop that doesn't stand up on its own and doesn't have a keyboard. I'm sure Apple will make a very nice product, but I don't know who would buy one and why they would buy it. I can't think of a use for a tablet in my home or office.

    Newspapers better not rest all their future hopes on this tablet thing because so far zero have been sold.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 26th, 2010 @ 1:40pm

    The media as a check on government?

    Excuse me, but HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! And, may I add, HOHOHOHOHOHOHOHOHO!

    The sooner these water carriers for the state go bankrupt, the better off for our society. Does anyone really read any so-called mainstream journalism when he wants to find out what the government and its cozy corporate pals are up to? No, you read it only to find out what the government's press releases say and what they want you to think.

    Sorry, dude, real investigative journalism and analysis moved to the web and "amateurs" a long time ago. "Professional" journalists are perceived as whiny little bitches with entitlement issues who parrot whatever the state wants them to say. This editorial sure does nothing to dispel that perception. Good riddance, you frickin' crybaby.

     

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    Tom Landry (profile), Jan 26th, 2010 @ 1:42pm

    The guy automatically assumes that there will be enough people to support what he's proposing. From my own point of view people are stretched already due to the job market AND paying for a bill that most didn't have ten years ago....cell phone service which averages.... what? $60 per month? Further, those who would be interested in the tablet most likely have a smart-phone, some of whose services will most certainly overlap.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 26th, 2010 @ 1:51pm

    Apple Table is made of Magic

    Oh, the mythical Apple Tablet. So many rumors, so much hope. And apparently a magic wand as well. Will it be able to fight crime? How about pilot plans and save lives? I bet solving world hunger will be an app....

    Honestly though. I remember back about 10 years ago how many news sites were behind a stupid paywall. I also remember how happy I was when they started taking those walls down.

    I really only see people who currently pay for a daily paper paying for those apps, and some people who are curious to see. I see them getting a lot of revenue up front, everyone rejoicing about how they are saved by the mighty apple...then all of a sudden the hype dies down and they start to see a cooling off period. And the pirates will be to blame.

    And so it goes.

     

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    Ralph Cramden, Jan 26th, 2010 @ 2:10pm

    Macworld

    Macworld? Consider the source.

    The magazine is little more than Mac fanboys pimping the latest hardware from Cupertino. Can we say, "Conflict of interest" now?

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 26th, 2010 @ 2:13pm

    First, yes, there are many fewer jobs in traditional journalism, but that's not due to "free," but due to a changing marketplace.


    Yes, many of the people with an affinity for playing golf during thunderstorms are no longer alive, but that's not due to "lightning", but due to the fact that they were electrocuted.

     

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    senshikaze (profile), Jan 26th, 2010 @ 2:16pm

    Re: Re: "Free" also in "free market"

    see libre v. gratis.

    other languages have this covered.

     

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    weneedhelp (profile), Jan 26th, 2010 @ 2:21pm

    Macworld, Kirk McElhearn

    I just love the MAC cult. Tablets have been around for a while. I have a motion Computing M1200.Had it for 5 years now, paid 1100.00.
    http://www.minomech.com/ME1400.jpg

    The MAC tablet will also end world hunger and pollution; it will unite shia's & Sunis, and Israelis & Palestinians. Yay!!!

     

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    Nate (profile), Jan 26th, 2010 @ 2:28pm

    Re: Who's buying tablets?

    Who is buying a tablet?

    My engineering school requires all students to have tablets (at the cost of the student...) to use in the classroom. Other than the computer engineering majors, every one has found little use for them. Most departments have failed to capitalize on the technology consistently for two years (my guess is that less than 10% of professors have given it a serious thought), and those who have tried have just simply treated it like it was a pencil and paper.

    I personally enjoy my tablet, but it's not for everyone. I think most people (non-students) will find them a bit silly and awkward to use for entertainment purposes. For learning, it can be an excellent tool if a school has a strong plan from the start. Otherwise I'm tempted to say it's a fad and certainly will have no impact for newspapers as Mr. McElhearn believes.

     

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    chris (profile), Jan 26th, 2010 @ 2:33pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    Actually, the Consumerist had the number incorrect. The "paper" was actually bought for $650 million.

    yeah, and those 35 people are paying $20,000,000 each for news and the paper is thriving.

    take that you pirates!

     

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    jorshw, Jan 26th, 2010 @ 2:38pm

    Virtually the same article came out in the NYTimes today by different authors...

    http://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/26/technology/26apple.html?hp

     

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    LM, Jan 26th, 2010 @ 2:39pm

    Re: Who's buying tablets?

    I couldn't think of a use for Internet everywhere until I reluctantly bought my iPhone. Now, I can't live without it.

    My point is that Apple won't introduce a product without very clearly knowing if people will use it (i.e. other than the hard-core fanbois), and that a use for it will organically develop.

     

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    chris (profile), Jan 26th, 2010 @ 2:47pm

    Re: Macworld, Kirk McElhearn


    The MAC tablet will also end world hunger and pollution; it will unite shia's & Sunis, and Israelis & Palestinians. Yay!!!


    you PC types just love to hate on apple and it makes me sick. i notice that you conveniently forgot to mention that it will make your dick bigger AND restore a woman's virginity. typical.

    just face it, windows causes cancer. the sooner you redmond worshipers wake up to that fact the better off we will all be.

    it's an undisputed fact that tomorrow morning steve jobs is going to unveil the new apple tablet and use it to behead osama bin laden and when that happens, the streets will run red with the blood of the microsoft whores who have torn out their own eyes rather than behold its beauty.

     

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    Richard (profile), Jan 26th, 2010 @ 2:48pm

    Re: Who's buying tablets?

    "Who is buying a tablet? Call me ignorant but I do not see the appeal of a laptop that doesn't stand up on its own and doesn't have a keyboard. I'm sure Apple will make a very nice product, but I don't know who would buy one and why they would buy it. I can't think of a use for a tablet in my home or office."

    Whereas you can swat flies with a newspaper...

     

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    Kaden (profile), Jan 26th, 2010 @ 2:51pm

    Re: Re: Who's buying tablets?

    yeah, that really worked out well with appleTV and that gawdawful iPod boombox dock thingie.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 26th, 2010 @ 2:58pm

    Re: Re: Macworld, Kirk McElhearn

    You're assuming Winblows is installed on that PC. There's this other thing, y'know? Linux? BSD? Those are just two popular starters. It's not all about Steve Jobs' tiny dick or Winblow$ lastest sacrifice to a bloodthirsty god.

     

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    dave blevins (profile), Jan 26th, 2010 @ 2:59pm

    Oh yeah, paywalls work, sure they do !

     

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    Mike, Jan 26th, 2010 @ 3:06pm

    Lots of people used to make money selling whale blubber, but then gasoline put them out of business. Did that kill the transportation industry? :-)

     

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    taoareyou (profile), Jan 26th, 2010 @ 3:08pm

     

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    Bradley Stewart, Jan 26th, 2010 @ 3:15pm

    Sure If People Work They Should

    be paid. Sure Apple is a great company with great products as well as many other companies. The problem is in this economy are really enough people able to not only pay for the hardware, the software, and all the subscriptions especially if granted one will probably get better writing from a traditional publication they can get the same information for nothing more than their traditional monthly internet fee. I just don't think so.

     

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    IshmaelDS (profile), Jan 26th, 2010 @ 3:18pm

    Re: Re: Who's buying tablets?

    Touching on the teaching aspect, my Aunt is a professor of math(multiple different types of maths) and is looking to get a tablet and hook it up to a projector so she can show the formulas on the screen and show how you work them ect. (i'm not sure of the specifics but she seems really intent on getting one) It's definitly got value for certain professions, we have some in our warehouse for doing our receiving. I just don't think the majority of people are really going to use them, seems like a niche market to me.

     

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    SockRolid, Jan 26th, 2010 @ 3:32pm

    Radio & TV are free

    People say the publishing industry is locked in the 20th century. It's really more like the 19th century, before the ad-supported free radio and TV of the 20th century.

    Publishers had a huge advantage over the masses because printing presses were enormously expensive and difficult to operate. Desktop publishing in the '80s and '90s helped to democratize printed documentation, but it took the web to completely eliminate the publishers' "industrial age" advantage.

    The Apple Tablet Device looks like the Holy Grail to a dying industry, the traditional print industry. Why? Because it's probably going to be a smash hit, and it could redefine how the masses get their infotainment.

    But will it make the masses pay for what was, before, traditional print content? Will it be so compelling that folks will cross all those paywalls? Maybe for textbooks (especially for college students with back problems from carrying all those books around.)

    But for magazines, newspapers, and books? I fear the masses won't want to pay. Does Apple care? No. There are plenty of movies and TV shows to sell through iTunes. People have shown that they are willing to pay for that kind of convenience. For music and video, anyway.

    So maybe Apple's acquisition of the Quattro Wireless mobile ad firm is their way of trying to save traditional print. By making published written-word content free and embedding ads into that free content. Back to the old ad-revenue model.

    Just like TV and radio learned to do back in the 20th century.

     

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    mict1111 (profile), Jan 26th, 2010 @ 4:08pm

    There is a way to monetize online news

    It would require all of the major news outlets, NY Times, LA Times, Washington Post, Miami Herald, SF, Boston, etc, etc, etc....to all agree to charge and possible even share revenue for shared stories.

    They should offer subscriptions on iTunes and give teasers to stories with the remainder needing to be purchased. Allow a reader to see all the front pages for free (as one would in a coffee shop display) but to read on requires a log in. But make it a simple log in, via paypal (or whatever the newest quickest online pay method currently is, or will be). But it better be fast and easy because that’s how we want our news now. And, allow all levels of membership from a per story membership to a regular subscriber.

    Of course this would leave many people to seek out news from other lesser-known sites for free. But one cannot republish an original news story without permission and they would have to go after ruthlessly anyone who did. They would have to band together for control and if they all did it at once it would probably work. It wouldn’t be like the ‘old’ days where if you wanted the news you had to buy a paper, but we don’t live in that world anymore. The news has always changed hourly, even by the minute, and we live in a world where you never need to go without those updates.
    And, if they truly control the way it is accessed together they can own it once again.

    But, they won't do it. Because it would require too many competitors to join forces for a very long time to reach a very long-term goal. And it would pretty much have to be all of the big ones or it would not work. Because if anyone one of the big newspapers bowed out then the rest would suffer even more.

    They're also admitting that if they do this then their print versions are all but antiquated. And, perhaps that's not something they're willing to admit yet. But they better hurry up. They need to catch up to what the next generation of readers already knows. If you want the news now the best place to find it is online. And, if the only way to get really good news is to pay for it then most will. Not all, but many will. And, in ten years there will be entirely new models of online distribution anyway so might as well get up to speed now and keep that brand alive.

     

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    mict1111 (profile), Jan 26th, 2010 @ 4:11pm

    Re: So by the same token...

    Actually, if iTunes hadn't come along the damage to many recording and music labels would have been far more destructive than it currently is.
    Sure, their industry is not what it used to be but you can't prevent change. You can either work to control it's path or let someone else do it. And, that someone else may not have your bottom line included in their business model.

     

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    mict1111 (profile), Jan 26th, 2010 @ 4:29pm

    iTunes saved the music industry....

    That's a great point actually. Did they save it - they certainly helped to figure out a way to reinvigorate it. Because I grew up with 45's and actual 'albums' with covers and sleeves. I remember with CD's were introduced. I only got rid of the last of my cassette tapes about five years ago.
    And I haven't purchased more than ten CD's over the last three years. I only use itunes and probably spend more money on music then I did when I had to buy CD's.
    Perhaps what newspapers need to embrace is something like iTunes to come along and regulate the distribution and re-organization of their content via a system of monetizing their stories and publications.

    Blockbuster is about to go bust because Netflix has not only seen the future but they're embracing it by getting into streaming instant downloads. Pretty soon, going to a video store will seen as old fashioned as picking up a needle and dropping it on the song you want to hear.

    That's the world we live in now. And, when you have shareholders to answer to it doesn't matter if you like it or even agree with it, but you damn well better figure out how to keep making money off it.

     

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    kosmonautbruce (profile), Jan 26th, 2010 @ 5:02pm

    Re: There is a way to monetize online news

    They can't do this, they would be sued for collusion immediately. In fact, it's one of the reasons they haven't been able to coordinate more effectively in the past. And of course, it's ridiculous on its face, you can't construct a monopoly on the news, especially in this day and age.

     

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    Griff (profile), Jan 26th, 2010 @ 5:17pm

    Re: Apple Table is made of Magic

    The Apple Table is "it." "It" will change the way we think and live. Entire cities will be built around "It." "It" will save the publishing industry, the music industry, the movie industry, and the buggy whip industry. "It" will transport you, entertain you, move you, keep you company, and fart unicorns. "It" is a miracle, and I, for one, will be happy to bow down to my new reptilian overlords.

    Hmm. That statement seemed to go places I didn't want to. Oh well. There's an app for that, I'm sure!

     

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    Griff (profile), Jan 26th, 2010 @ 5:23pm

    Re: Re: Macworld, Kirk McElhearn

    * happily types away on a Nokia N810 UMPC Tablet *

    Oh, hai! I heard Apple is coming out with one of these tablets. About time. Too bad Apple will probably think they invented the concept.

     

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    Correction, Jan 26th, 2010 @ 5:29pm

    Re:

    That was $650 _million_

     

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    BobinBaltimore (profile), Jan 26th, 2010 @ 5:29pm

    Re: Re: Who's buying tablets?

    Spoken like a fanboy! Apple is BOTH wildly successful and the king of marginal, self-limiting, proprietary products that appeal to a limited, but lucrative segment (fanboys and hipsters). iPod was a smash, mainstream breakthrough. iPhone, less so, but still brilliant. Both offered little truly new, but packaged existing features brilliantly with typically masterful UIs. Mac, though, still marginal after all these years. AppleTV, QuickTime, etc. I look forward to their tablet offering, but doubt it will change any games, at least initially. Except for the fanboy hipsters. :-)

     

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    Hephaestus (profile), Jan 26th, 2010 @ 5:29pm

    Re:

    Ima Fish (Cute name by the way)

    This really is going to be fun to watch from a psyche perspective. In these media executives we are seeing a combination of the 5 stages of grieving, the rationalizing that goes with denial when all facts point to another conclusion.

    This very slow death of the media distribution industries is actually very interesting, it allows for multiple iterations of the 5 stages of grieving to be observed. In each industry they all have the same single primary point of disbelief-denial.

    There are multiple groups going following different paths. In the case of the recording industry, lobbying for increased penalties for copyright infringement (3 times value rule will cause this to fail), 30k Law suits (failed, public outcry), closing of P2P sites (failed), DRM (failed), ISP warning letters (soon to fail because of the spying on peoples telecommunications aspect and public out cry), collection agencies (beginning to fail with CC lisc, Australia, etc), UK digital economy bill (EU human rights issues will cause this to fail), ACTA (gonna be fun to watch for mutiple reasons), etc.

    The really neat thing here is that they never get to the acceptance phase. The entire recording industry acts as a support group preventing it. When one attempt fails they go to the group and ask what else can we do to stop this. The response is we have this other idea in the works.

    Over the next few weeks the print media companies will write many articles on how this is going to save the publishing world. All of them happy and care free, high on the fact that they have been saved by the iSlate-iTablet-insert tablet name here tomorrow. Deluded into believing their own hype they will plod ahead with recless abandon dumping money into advertising, reworking their sites to be pay sites. Then months later, like Newsdays with 35 paying customers, and people no longer visiting their sites it might just dawn on them that they were wrong.


    Definitions ------------------------------------

    denial - where they pretend that the news has not been given. They effectively close their eyes to any evidence and pretend that nothing has happened.

    Rationalization - A defense mechanism involving the construction of a logical justification for seemingly illogical or unacceptable feelings or behaviors. Rationalization can be conscious or subconscious, and is one of Freud’s proposed defense mechanisms.

    Five Stages of Grieving - disbelief-denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance

     

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  40.  
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    BobinBaltimore (profile), Jan 26th, 2010 @ 5:37pm

    Ad Supported Content

    Mike, your comment "Wait, there are tons of companies that are making a ton of money off of ad supported content." Tons? Off of purely digital advertising? Tons? At scale? Really? Where? Print ads, yes. Broadcast ads, absolutely. But web advertising? Banners, popovers, popunders, takeovers, etc.? A rounding error for most media companies of any substantial scale.

    Shockingly, I'm not disagreeing with your assessment of this article, generally speaking. But I am interested in learning of these "tons" of companies creating new, professional quality content - di novo journalistic or editorial content, video, photos, etc. - making "a ton of money" off of web advertising.

     

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  41.  
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    Hephaestus (profile), Jan 26th, 2010 @ 5:40pm

    Re: Re:

    Oh yeah forgot something ... rupert murdoch

    1) disbelief - quarterly reports
    2) anger - lashing out at google and other aggregators calling them thieves
    3) bargaining - Apples iSlate, working with other news organizations to create paywalls, and UKs Digital economy bill
    4) depression - Soon
    5) acceptance - Priceless like the news

     

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  42.  
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    Bill, Jan 26th, 2010 @ 6:10pm

    Re: Who's buying tablets?

    ...people who don't care about creating content. you're not going to write long documents or programme an application on the tablet. But you might use it to browse the web, read an ebook, check your email, remote desktop to your main computer to check your torrents... it will be small, light and easy to fling in a bag and take with you. it's a frickin' great idea!

     

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  43.  
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    LM, Jan 26th, 2010 @ 6:42pm

    Re: Re: Re: Who's buying tablets?

    Fraid not, not a fanboy at all. I generally avoid Apple products, I hate iTunes more than I hate getting kicked in the nuts, but the iPhone and iPods are best of breed for me and they work extremely well. (I'm in Australia, so I'm not on AT&T, ha ha.)

    Assuming that only fanboys and hipsters like or buy these products is wrong. The missus and I are the most unhip people I know, yet we both got em.

     

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  44.  
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    bshock, Jan 26th, 2010 @ 6:59pm

    Something else you have to remember about the WSJ paywall example is that WSJ is a highly slanted conservative rag, read primarily by the wanna-be wealthy. Aside from the fact that these people are not exactly the children of the digital age, their conservatism and greed have a way of combining to make them, shall we say, "unwise" enough to pay for online news content that reflects their views.

     

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  45.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 26th, 2010 @ 8:23pm

    Re:

    Traditional media is destroying itself by falling prey to outside influence. People seek out the information they're interested in, and the cost is of nominal importance. If the information being delivered becomes corrupted then the value of the information is denigrated.

    The newspaper business has had a captive audience for ~300 years and it's really no surprise that they're having difficulty adapting to changing demans. There may be models that will help make money from poor content but content is key.

     

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  46.  
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    Spanky, Jan 26th, 2010 @ 8:51pm

    "Yet we need the press: the fourth estate is a necessary check for our government and business"

    Well, it used to be. Sad, really.

    Today the only effective check seems to be bloggers and alt news sites that don't ignore "uncomfortable" stories. So I'm not sure that it matters if the mainstream press fails.

     

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  47.  
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    Mr RC (profile), Jan 27th, 2010 @ 1:59am

    Re: Re: Macworld, Kirk McElhearn

    You do realize that the MAC is a PC :P ;)

    Personally, MS and Linux *thumbs up*
    Mac *thumbs down* (though through numerous bad experiences with them... not the OMG MAC KILL IT WITH FIRE!! MS fanboi type)

     

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  48.  
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    jhs, Jan 27th, 2010 @ 4:41am

    Re: Re: Re: Who's buying tablets?

    All the people I know who have an iPhone are NOT fanboys OR hipsters, but ordinary, middle class folks who appreciate the quality of the iPhone and what it does for them, which is the opposite of what comes from Microsoft.

     

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  49.  
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    The Anti-Mike (profile), Jan 27th, 2010 @ 5:19am

    Re: Ad Supported Content

    The most visited news sources online are sites like CNN, Fox, which are basically sponging off of the existing content flow on their news sites. The recent redo of the CNN site basically makes it almost exactly the same as the on air product.

    Other popular sites like Drudge are entirely dependent on other people's content, and do not generate much in the way of their own news. Heck, even Techdirt is almost entirely dependent on the "look at this story over here". Admitted Mike adds (often unintentionally humorous) editorial comments, there is little in the way of a journalistic team hard at work to find the news.

    I would also be interested to see which sites are actually making a profit on significant unique content. I suspect they are pretty rare.

     

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  50.  
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    BobinBaltimore (profile), Jan 27th, 2010 @ 6:25am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Who's buying tablets?

    Read more carefully: I wrote that iPod and, to a lesser extent, iPhones are the two examples of MAINSTREAM adoption of Apple products. The point is that Apple puts a lot of stuff out there that *most* consumers don't or can't use.

     

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  51.  
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    BobinBaltimore (profile), Jan 27th, 2010 @ 6:29am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Who's buying tablets?

    Read more carefully: I wrote that iPod and, to a lesser extent, iPhones are the two examples of MAINSTREAM adoption of Apple products. However, they are largely the exception in Apple's product pantheon.

    And PLEASE don't make this an Apple versus Microsoft thing. it isn't. Even Jobs and Gates largely buried the hatchet a few years ago. The FACT is that MS trumps most everyone with market share in tons of product categories, most of which work just beautifully, day in and day out, on a massive scale. And the FACT is that Apple trumps everyone with usability and marketing in a number of product categories, and iPod/iTunes rules the roost, marketshare-wise in its category. They are both great companies at what they do, and both employ a lot of people in the US and around the world. There is goodness enough for everyone.

     

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  52.  
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    weneedhelp (profile), Jan 27th, 2010 @ 8:51am

    Re: Re: Macworld, Kirk McElhearn

    "you PC types"
    I support Windows and OSX, in a corporate environment. I have a MAC Book Pro & G5 dual quad core.
    And again, I love the MAC cult. They defend them till the bitter end. (The bitter end being paying a premium for PC hardware with an apple on it.)

    All I stated is that Tablet PC's are nothing new. Motion Computing did one 5 years ago that was under an inch thick and one of the best looking Slate form factor tablets to date. It also did it from 1200 - 1400 dollars.

    Kirk McElhearn's claims show just how crazy the MAC Cult is.

     

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  53.  
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    Joshy, Jan 27th, 2010 @ 1:50pm

    If there was one newspaper that had a page of daily content from Wired a Page from TMZ a page from Huffingtonpost a page from Sports illustrated....Wait that's all really in depth content that I cannot find in my local newspaper. Instead I get some robot homogenized puff piece written by someone that doesn't know anything about what they are writing....Who wants to pay for that???

     

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  54.  
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    B4, Jan 27th, 2010 @ 3:37pm

    The journalist is not really against free. He has no problem distributing the news free through iTunes and even endorses it by calling it green. In his new business model where does that leave the paper & ink makers, print press operators, distributors, carriers, newsstands, etc.? He's only against free when it affects his livelihood.

    Oh, hypocrisy is such a bitter pill. :(

     

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  55.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 27th, 2010 @ 4:19pm

    Re: Re: Re: Who's buying tablets?

    That's what my math professors did. Students were supplied blank notes to fill in as the professor went along. What advantages did it produce? The professors didn't leave the room with chalky or dirty hands. The disadvantages? The overwhelming majority of students surfed the Internet all class long.

    I wish good luck to your aunt with figuring out a meaningful way of using a tablet pc for teaching. Just using the writing aspect as my professors have done is no different than a blackboard in my opinion, though some studies, which my school swears by, have "proven" otherwise.

     

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  56.  
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    rwahrens (profile), Jan 27th, 2010 @ 8:14pm

    Wrong again

    The content (ebooks, newspapers, magazines, etc.) on the iPad won't be free, because it will cost content providers to put it there. People will pay to view that content because it is convenient, and it will be the convenience they are paying for, not the content per se. (Added value, huh, Mike?)

    Those that say the iPad will "save" the print industry are wrong in that it will not "save" the current business model - but it may help them transition to a new one that will, in time.

    If the iPad is embraced by the public, its way of embracing digital content will change the way printed content is seen and accessed by the public. With such things as "subscriptions" to technical books to update to new information, videos embedded in digital "newspapers" to bring in depth visual reporting to what used to be flat two dimensional stories, and who knows what new ways of viewing what we now call "books", the iPad (and soon to be seen competitors) can well change how information is accessed and referenced.

    All this is the "added value" that Mike is always talking about, you know, the "reason to buy"??. I'm surprised he hasn't noticed. Maybe he just missed the event this afternoon.

    Smack Apple down however you wish, but when they introduce something like this that innovates how people see and do things, the public sits up and notices.

    Sure, Apple has had their share of less than successful products and outright failures. What tech company hasn't? Companies are only measured by their failures if those failures are what makes a company go out of business or lose in a previously successful market. Apple's failures have done neither, to the chagrin of its critics.

    Instead, it is making money hand over fist, with a growth rate twice that of the general PC market, and a quarter behind them that blew away all expectations and all previous records. Over half of the folks buying Macs in the Apple stores are NEW Mac customers. They have a majority stake in the market segment of over $1000 PCs, and over half of the profits in the PC market are going into Apple, Inc. coffers.

    Hardly a record to sneer at.

    They've sold over 250 million iPods and over 75 million iPhones and iPod Touches. Most of those were hardly mac fanboys!

    I'd say Apple is shattering more than a few past myths about itself, as the American public (and many around the world) are definitely paying attention and beginning to buy Apple products. The trend is for that to continue to grow, and not the other way around.

     

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  57.  
    identicon
    Synergy Articles, Jan 28th, 2010 @ 4:27pm

    Synergy Articles

    I see the Drones are out "This man should be taken away..." - the cult of the black Polo neck strikes again ...

     

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  58.  
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    language learning software, Feb 4th, 2010 @ 4:04pm

    language learning software

    Ouch. Didn’t ATI or NVIDIA steal Apple’s product announcement thunder once? I seem to recall that there were … repercussions.

     

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  59.  
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    Andrew, Feb 5th, 2010 @ 9:42pm

    Tablet...

    The tablet will not save anything. Although I was that it was driven by apps and more open to another platform like a macbook, oh well I guess we'll see how the oversized iphone turns out...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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