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The more I see devices like the new Apple iPad, the more I come to appreciate Steven Spielberg's 2002 sci-fi spectacular "Minority Report." It was the first thing I thought of when I saw video of the company's newest "magical" creation and executives demonstrating its New York Times app. The app seamlessly integrated video content with the usual Grey Lady font and text. With a finger-tap on multi-touch screen, video boxes pop up to enhance what you're reading on the iPad, and all done within the stylistic confines we've come to know and appreciate with the Times .
I was extremely skeptical about the 'iPad' before seeing the introduction video and reading the technical specifications. In the space of an hour of so, I moved from skeptic to 'ok, this could be a good thing'.
After 24 hours, reading the reviews, verifying that it should give me access to Amazon, Barnes & Nobel and Google titles, and thinking through my likely use of the iPad, I have moved from 'ok' to 'I want one!'.
One of the biggest motivators was the NYT demo. My wife and I have been reading the Times on-line for several years now. It is a part of our everyday rituals. I haven't been a paid subscriber in all that time.
After seeing the NYT Reader demo, I am ready to ante up the $175 per year for a paid subscription (after they answer a few questions to my satisfaction). Mostly, do they expect me to pay additional for access to articles older than 7 days.
Given a similar UI, I would very likely switch my magazine subscriptions to on-line access (at the same rates I pay now).
And I would likely add back in a couple I have dropped over the years.
While many of these magazines are available on-line as websites, I find no compelling reason to read them on my desktop, laptop, netbook or smartphone.
A full color e-reader with a great UI would change this (I have used the Kindle and tried the Nook.... no sale).
Add in what seems to be a wealth of apps, iWork tools for $10 each, photo handling, wi-fi and 3G for $15/mo no contract, Brushes (to encourage my artist wife's buy-in) all in a device I can comfortably hold and easily carry on trips and Wow! I am ready to part with $800.
So to sum it up, the device offers me a combination of functionality and pricing that I find compelling.
e-books are another issue. Moving me away from the library and used bookstores will require a much better model of pricing, licensing, ability to share with friends and family, etc.
I am an avid reader who, when paperbacks were under $5, used to buy a minimum of 4-6 books a month. I have much larger than usual 'library' (1,500+ books even after donating over 1,000 to the local library).
Since prices for even paperbacks have have climbed above $8, I have virtually stopped buying new books and haunt the library and used book stores instead.
I also hate the new paperback format. The older format is so much more convenient to carry and read. And fit on my bookshelf.
Bottom line, my wallet is out and I am just waiting to confirm my impressions of the device and media to buy one.
Well done Apple....
Hope the print media recognizes the opportunity to recapture customers and recognizes how much more profitable selling a few million copies of electronic products at $1 is than selling a few hundred thousand at $10.
The print folks can seize the opportunity and save the core of the business plus add incredible new opportunities (in copyright, out of print anyone?) or they can follow the RIAA's model and continue on the path to obscurity.
You are so right in saying that the print media needs much more then a cool device to deliver its content. It needs a reason to convince consumers that their content is worth reading more then the free content provided to them already. Paying for something means getting something more then what is free. In this case that's a huge task. I like print I worked through college in a new agency distributing Chicago's finest newspapers. I spent many a hour reading them. Then the internet come on the scene in the form of AOL. That started a change for me and I know for many the internet is available to them and they pay for it anyway. So why buy news in print is what they ask? AOL was never able to reinvent itself as times changed. Will the print media be able too? Time will tell.