Well though I know the dangers of attempting to predict what will blossom forth from the ever-changing tech industry, I feel the need to put into record a few of my thoughts around the upcoming Apple Tablet (iPad, iSlate, whatever) and the effect it will have in a couple of different areas. I’ll try to limit my thoughts to two specific things that I haven’t heard much (or any) buzz about so as to not just regurgitate so much of what’s been said elsewhere.
One thing that I haven’t heard much buzz about, but which is fairly obvious to me (especially in light of all the talk about newspapers and magazines to be delivered onto the Tablet, and Apple’s central role in the development of podcasting), is that the embracing of text-based content by the iTunes ecosystem will almost certainly lead to the very creator-advantageous development of text-based podcasts.
Sure, we have RSS feeds now, but these don’t get delivered (at least not very elegantly) to any non-desktop/laptop Apple devices and they aren’t really meant for long form/one-off content like fictional works. Just as with podcasts and video podcasts, Apple would almost certainly welcome the hoards of independent producers who would eagerly bolster any old media text-based content to the iTunes Store. This means…
- Rebirth of the Zine – indy magazines with ancestors that were abandoned last century will now have a home.
- Comics – and not just traditional comics but also works that evolve to include more motion and sound (the roots of which can be seen in the iTunes Store today) – this will be a change to the entire medium that is even more dramatic than what newspapers and magazines will experience.
- Indy Novels & Short Stories – do you know how hard it is to get published nowadays? An iTunes Store with reasonably-priced independent writing would keep longer written works from either enduring the awkward contraints of the blog or languishing in a text document somewhere without ever being read.
Maybe reading won’t be dead after all. Of course, that’s not (for better or for worse) where our hearts really lie…
Apple TV Connection
I think there is a lot of content for the Tablet that will work just great for the Apple TV, too. Games are an obvious addition that can benefit from the big screen (and surround sound – see also iPhone controller note below) but as, for example, those comic books evolve into richer media, there will be the opportunity to open ourselves to experience entirely different kinds of entertainment in the cozy confines of the giant screens in our living rooms.
My suspicion is that the reason the Apple TV has been somewhat languishing is precisely because there is a boatload of synchronicities between the Tablet and Apple TV that will serve as a major catalyst for buyers (and which Apple would be loathe to release without new hardware to capitalize on). And the reason it’s gone on so long? Steve’s liver transplant delayed work on the tablet, so the Apple TV came off as a product with no future vision as it awaited its master’s command.
Obviously the potential of video content subscriptions works just as well (or better) for the Apple TV as it does for the Tablet, and all that other content is totally repurposable as well. The clearest view I have of this is that Apple has been vigorously developing a very robust online market for visual, audio, and textual content, along with millions of customers with credit card accounts already attached, so that they can use…
- the iPhone/iPod Touch as the portable, go everywhere, in-your-pocket personal hardware destination.
- the Tablet as the bulkier but still very portable “reasonable” screen size destination for one or more users.
- the Apple TV as the “big screen” destination in the family room.
Of course, laptops and desktops fit in there as well, but the three devices above are all very media/web-oriented, whereas that’s not necessarily the case with laptops and desktops (that will still perform the heavy lifting in creating content, for example). Furthermore, the development of a variety of great iPhone/iPod Touch apps that allow you to control a computer (including the Apple TV) remotely has effectively removed the weaknesses of Apple’s diminutive remote, as well as entrenching the iPhone/iPod Touch as not just a hardware destination for content, but as a robust and usable controller for other devices (which, I expect, will include Tablets that are mounted for extended viewing, for example).
This is a very exciting time and I can’t wait to see what gets released tomorrow. The nay-sayers don’t want to see the light, and a lot of people are legitimately exhausted by all the speculation, but the fact remains that we are about to be delivered the household-use equivalent of the historic and pocketable iPhone, but with more content than ever and an evolving eco-system that provides even further advantages. So maybe I’ll be wrong in my predictions – but I’ll still be excited at the possibilities.
Let everyone know your thoughts in the comments thread below.