No, this is not another enthusiastic I-love-the-iPad Review. Neither is it an enthusiastic I-hate-the-iPad Review. It is about the iPad and the Newspaper and Magazine Industry and about tablet computers and the Media Industry generally. Also I will be as visionary as ever to describe an idea of how Newspapers and Magazines will be consumed in the future.
It is and was often said, that with the iPad, Steve Jobs wants to save the Media Industry and that Newspapers and Magazines get a nice stage on the iPad to distribute their content in a modern way. But, I think, the Newspaper and Magazine Industry cannot be saved sustainably, in the form they now have. The Print Industry won't cease completely, of course, but will definitely transform particulary.
There are several reasons for this. First, the classic Print Industry has not yet found a satisfying Business Model outside of Print. Ads sell on their Websites as well (but to much lower prices) and people are attracted by the Websites of the NY Times or The Economist but they failed yet to establish a Pay-For-Content-Model that is working and satisfying for both sides, the Publisher and the Consumer.
Now suddenly, with the iPad, Magazines are creating Apps and want to charge again for the content. But I think one of the main reasons why this current Pay-For-Content-Model on the iPad won't work is, that the publishers are suddenly charging for stuff, that already has been for free. This Model might work for a few month, but as Chris Anderson wrote in his book "Free", in the Internet, free as in beer, is inevitable. There'll be a hard price competition between several Newspapers and Magazines, where at the end, we will be exactly at the point, from where we initially started: free. I don't see why I suddenly should pay for any news whereas only last week I still had it for free via RSS (Many Newspapers are already planning to stop RSS Feeds and want to charge you for reading articles on their Websites as well).
Second, Newspapers and Magazines are mistakenably perceived as Content Creators, which is absolutely wrong. Newspapers and Magazines are, exactly as Record Labels for example, Content Distributors, but not Creators. Content Creators are the Journalists and Authors.
I have an example: When you buy a CD, you buy it because of the Band, not because of the Record Label. Similiarily you buy a book because of the author, not because it was printed by Random House. When we come to Magazines its getting a little mixed up, because you buy The Economoist or Wired, because its The Economist or Wired, but, when you are not sure if you should buy it, you may be convinced to do so when you see that Steven Levy or Chris Anderson wrote the Lead-Article of the Issue (in case of Wired). And finally when you buy a Newspaper, you buy it, because its the NY Times and because the NY Times stands for quality journalism.
This clearly shows how the perception of who the Content Creator is, changes with the medium. For books there is no discussion who the originator is, but when it comes to Newspapers, the perception of who created the content is suddenly the other way round. You may not know if the Journalist who writes Foreign Affairs articles in the Washington Post may not also write for any Gossip Magazine, yet you consider the Washington Post as a quality Newspaper and may consider any Gossip Mag as crap, although perhaps the same people were producing (some of) the content.
I believe the future of how we consume Magazines and Newspapers will be in a very personalised way (like RSS Feeds), but we won't consume it on our Notebooks but on mobile devices as the Kindle or the iPad. I am also not 100% satisfied with one of the existing RSS Reader, so my vision looks like this:
I have an (Personal Newspaper and Magazine-) Application on my iPad with a uniform layout, so that I don't recognise the source of the article in my Application (I don't care whether its from TechCrunch or the Time Magazine, but I don't want that all my articles have different Fonts, different Font-sizes and different layouts). Next thing is, I am able to subscribe for certain topics, subscribe all articles by certain journalists, subscribe the top news or events from my current location and subscribe all articles where certain keywords occur.
That way, I get domestic politics of my local newspaper, international politics of the Daily Telegraph and Economics from the WSJ (subscription by topic). I also get all articles written by Tim O'Reilly, published in any Newspaper, Blog or Magazine (subscription by author). Further, if I happen to be in Zurich or in Tokyo, I get a list of exhibitions and concerts (subscription by location). And finally, I get all articles, published today, from all Blogs, Newspapers and Magazines that are about Artificial Intelligence research and Gödel-numbering and its real life applications.
To get all this stuff, packed into one application with uniform layout and delievered to me on a daily basis, I would pay a monthly fee. Why should I subscribe for a daily newspaper or a monthly magazine when I don't read all the content, although I pay for all of it? I think sooner or later, such a central platform will be developed (maybe even by me), that also introduces a convenient charging model for both - the Consumer and the Publisher .
The Classic Publishing Industry has its greatest enemy in the Internet (the Internet is, by far, the biggest Content-Distributor, as it is actually distributing, the Classic Content-Distributors Content XD). I don't mean that all Newspapers, Record Labels and Magazines will die, but they have to change their business model to stay profitable. The iPad won't be the saviour of the Classic Print Industry, the iPad and other upcoming multi-funtional-tablets are tools that are able to transform the Media Industry. And on the end of that transformation, I believe will be a platform on which you subscribe to have free-content and pay-for-content, delievered to a tablet device in a uniform layout as a personalised Newspaper.