Is Apple about to save print media?

Will Apple save print media too?

Will Apple save print media too?

A very familiar scenario could be about to play out.

A decade ago the music industry was reeling from the sudden loss of revenue thanks to the likes of Napster and other peer-to-peer networks. Free downloads were “robbing” music publishers of sales. They got aggressive, sued individuals for downloading and chased Napster into oblivion but the fact remained that the music industry hadn’t kept up wit the changing digital landscape and didn’t have a model for the 21st Century.

Then along came Apple with the iPod and the iTunes store. They made it easy, legal and affordable to download music and quickly struck deals with almost every music publisher. A new model was created. It wasn’t necessarily as lucrative for the publishers but it kept them alive and in the game.

Fast-forward a decade. Newspapers are losing readers and their online content is being passed around and indexed by all and sundry. The big players are screaming blue murder as they accuse the likes of Google and news aggregation sites of being thieves and “parasites”. Rupert Murdoch is making threats about not allowing Google to index his news sites and beginning to build pay-walls.

Like the music industry, the press hasn’t prepared well for the 21st Century digital reality and haven’t yet designed a successful model to replace or co-exist with their very lucrative old model.

Seems familiar doesn’t it?

But wait, who’s that on the horizon? Its Steve Jobs. And he’s holding a new toy called the iSlate (probably). His new gadget allows us to quickly access and read vast amounts of text in a much friendlier way than a smartphone, and in many more locations than a PC. It allows us to subscribe to our favourite magazines, journals and papers quickly, easily and cost-effectively. Its like a Kindle, but with so many more uses.

Oh, and he’s done deals with a whole bunch of publishers to get the ball rolling.

Rumours abound that Apple is set on redefining print with the iSlate / iTablet just as they redefined music publishing with the iPod / iTunes concept. Several large publishers are allegedly rushing to get their products to iTunes, whilst magazine publishers have been filing into Apple’s Cupertino headquarters.

I might be wrong but there’s a very big chance that Apple is about to save print media.

What do you think, is history about to repeat itself?

Posted under Books, Digital, Press

Written by Craig Wilson

11 Responses to “Is Apple about to save print media?”

No, Apple will not save print media.

Comment by Nick Hodge on January 18th, 2010

I think the problem is that news is, mostly, a one-time product. Music is not.

That said, if said slate/tablet/whatever had persistent storage, access to the archives, a working text search function and a clipping/data management program like devonthink (and the facility to install a blog product, etc), i’d buy one straight away.

Comment by barry on January 18th, 2010

The strengths of iTunes that should translate to iRead (or whatever it will be called) are

1) Easy interface to buy- no need to know about torrents or other techincal detail
2) Safe for purchasing and safe from viruses
3) Aggregator site that can anticipate and suggest like material
4) Ratings by other users help faster decisions
5) There are enough rusted on Apple devotees to make it work

And one other observation: adjustible type size will suit aging baby boomers with declining vision.

Comment by ollie on January 18th, 2010

not being a huge fan of all things iP… my concern is format and DRM on Apples eReader. There’s already quite a few formats out there which aren’t interchangeable between readers, will this be just another one?

Comment by OzAz on January 18th, 2010

[...] what it has already done for music. It’ll revitalise the industry’s slumping sales. (see mediahunter ) That’s impressive. But, for iPhone, that’s a red [...]

Comment by The ‘Droids are Coming. iPhone scared? It should be. « Listening to stories on January 18th, 2010

The quick answer is yes, this is a game changer. But let’s not forget this isn’t just Apple – this is numerous teams around the world working together to setup relationships and technical provisions. I don’t think Apple should get all the cred. If publishers weren’t willing to experiment (not that they have any choice), this would not be happening.

As with all tech changes, the effects will be slow but it will lead the way and spawn numerous others to rethink their approach. The business model of the web’s been so poor for so long, it’s great to see something on the horizon that looks to be a win/win scenario. Thank god this is happening!

Comment by Nick on January 19th, 2010

I don’t see it beings such a neat analogy. The publishing industry could be saved, tho’ I’m inclined to say that I only see them getting a smaller slice of the pie (and I wonder if that’s enough to help them survive). But the other point to ponder is whether that really translates to any gain for print. Print is not synonymous with publishing.

Comment by Stephen Tiano on January 19th, 2010

In your par starting “But wait, who’s that on the horizon? Its Steve Jobs”, you’re describing a kindle (or a kindle like tool). And for those people who don’t actually want a kindle (like australians who can buy a netbook for less than a kindle), there’s other hardware choice or products like kindle-for-pc.

We need to see what Apple bring to the table, both in usability and in product, before we can see what effect the apple tablet (or whatever this decade’s naming convention is) has.

PS pedantic, I know, but….
If its on a screen, then is it print ?
No, its digital. And it can be copied. With or without DRM (just like the kindle…)

Comment by Martin English on January 19th, 2010

My concern around this lies in whether or not content would be freely available across geographical boundaries. What you can legally buy through iTunes in Australia is very different to what you can legally buy through iTunes in the USA. The digital economy should have no borders.

Comment by Jason Berek-Lewis on January 19th, 2010

It won’t be print media if it’s on the internet.

It might create extra outlets for existing content producers (in all media) but I can’t see how it will be any different to content delivered via the iphone (and the various readers that are available on this platform).

Do you think the NY Times iPhone App is going to make the NYT commercially viable?

Comment by Jude Novak on January 20th, 2010

You can just see the battle of standards now and the rise in work for people in the digital space as the world of static print meets the world of the dynamic and engaging web.

Comment by @Iconic88 on January 22nd, 2010

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