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Posts Tagged ‘future news media’

News media's pre-launch love affair with Apple's iPad

Media companies have big plans for Apple’s iPad. Just ask Wired Magazine and Adobe.

Of course, Wired is far from the only publication seeing dollar signs in the iPad’s glossy reflection. The New York Times Media Group has been struggling over the best subscription price to offer for their iPad distribution system — anywhere from $10 to $30 a month. The Associated Press recently announced “AP Gateway,” a division focused on developing new content and distribution models for mobile devices, and you better believe an iPad app is top on their to-do list. The Wall Street Journal and Condé Nast also have plans to harness the tablet’s potential using custom applications.

Media companies seem to think the iPad holds the answer to what ails them, namely the trouble getting people to pay for content. On the iPad, they propose, people will be willing to subscribe again.

Time for good-news, bad-news. On the positive, news media seem for once to be anticipating a trend. Perhaps as a result of the lesson they learned from their belated entry onto the Web (link to 10,0000), media companies have picked up the pace, announcing iPad applications before the device even hits stores this April. Traditional media is not known for experimentation, and any willingness to innovate is refreshing.

The bad news is, even though they’re lined up behind an Apple device, there’s no guarantee big media’s dreams of a workable subscription model will come to fruition.

Wired seems to be a good example of what I’ll call the “enhanced content” model. They propose offering subscribers an enhanced reading experience — whether through value-added content or better content management — will justify the monetary exchange. Most people, myself included, believe this to be a good approach. Traditional news content has become undervalued, so it falls to news media to find ways to increased content’s value to readers. Of course, there are other approaches, but this seems to be the most straight-forward and the one well represented by Wired’s current iPad strategy.

In the case of The New York Times,  the application they plan for the iPad will reportedly be something similar to the New York Times Reader currently available for personal computers. However, the company may charge twice as much for the same functionality on the iPad. While moving the same content to a different device may qualify as innovation, I believe it does so in definition only. The move to iPad does not justify, in my eyes, such a jump in quality, and does not fall under the enhanced content approach.

In the end, I think — and hope — many companies will take the initiative to enhanced content. However, this means radical shifts in the way news media operates, bringing in new innovators, programmers, and designers. Legacy media’s ethos — and wallets — may not fit the change. At least for a Wired subscriber like myself, it’s refreshing to see the edgy tech-magazine continuing to innovate on what could be the future of magazine content. As for the rest of the news media, without innovation, their love affair with the iPad may be a one-night-stand.

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