When the iPad first came out, there was much consternation on the lack of Flash and other traditional web features that dominate current computers. But I always believed that Apple’s decision to exclude these features was in fact a plus; breaking away and designing for the future rather than holding on to the past. People missed floppy drives the first time they were excluded but no one remembers them anymore.
Instead of focusing on what we don’t have, I believe that true potential of the iPad will be unleashed by what we have not yet seen. Just like the iPhone revolutionized the smartphone industry, I believe the iPad will change the way we consume media. Yes, the iPad will and is primarily a media consuming device. I have been primarily interested in books and magazines. The possibilities of embedding rich media within content are endless. Think of your favorite magazines and then imagine how better your experience would be if some content was interactive .
The media companies have already started designing their publications for the iPad. For e.g., Penguin Books:
The part about holding your iPad up to the sky to map constellations is something that no paper book can do. Another of my favorite magazine, Wired is also almost ready with its app and it looks even better than it’s paper version.
I hope other publications recognize the potential of this new medium and get started. The publishing industry thankfully has learned from the music industry’s debacle and looks willing to adapt and adopt new technologies.
P.S. The irony that the two videos above are in Flash is not lost on me :) But as both YouTube and Wired show, you can keep everyone happy by having two versions of their content. May the best technology win.
Update: Coincidentally, hours after I published this meandering post, I found Craig Mod’s beautifully illustrated and excellently-written article on how the iPad is challenging the very notion of books and yet retaining what we like most about them.
The iPad changes the experience formula. It brings the excellent text readability of the iPhone/Kindle to a larger canvas. It combines the intimacy and comfort of reading on those devices with a canvas both large enough and versatile enough to allow for well considered layouts.
- A National Geographic app for the iPad will provide the same stunning photos and also include video [↩]