The Economics of the iPad

The Economics of the iPad

I spent the last couple days at the Power of the Tablet seminar at the Poynter Institute in St. Petersburg, Florida. A lot of smart people were gathered together by newspaper redesign guru Mario Garcia to talk about the potential of the iPad and other tablets to transform magazines and newspapers. You can see a full report on the seminar here, including transcripts of all the sessions and interviews with some of the key presenters. Among the speakers were: D.W. Pine, art director of Time magazine, Jennifer Brook, interaction designer at The New York Times, Andrew DeVigal, multimedia editor of The New York Times, and Gary Cosmini of Adobe. One of the strongest presentations was by art director/illustrator/smart guy Joe Zeff of Joe Zeff Design. His talk, The Economics of the iPad, is available at his blog. It's a quick read/view and well-worth the time to get a smart, comprehensive rundown on the financial potential of publication apps.

  • David Pierce

    Nobody wants to be wrong... Pretty much sums up why everyone has their ear to the ground, especially for those of us who design and develop for the web. Many in our community say that mobile or tablet delivered content won't replace the traditional browser delivered "website". Many of us note that publishers said the same thing about web vs. print. Our audiences haven't gone anywhere but the way they choose to experience our content is constantly changing and once again we find ourselves wondering what skill set do we need not only to stay ahead of the game but merely in step with it. Most likely a combination of web, mobile, and print content will emerge with the market share of each being the real question.

    Initially when the iphone was released the code was well guarded and developers who wanted to do more on the iphone were limited. Unknown territory to most developers, aka Objective C, seemed to be the only way to create rich, touch sensitive apps, that supported open GL, video etc. However more and more new technologies (HTML 5/ phone gap etc) and the time sensitive nature of web content brought HTML and web based content back into the mobile conversation.

    At this point developers are debating whether app development for mobile/ipad is the better choice or traditional web development. When content is updated often web approaches, HTML5, has a good argument as the best choice. At the moment Time/Wired etc etc deliver the wow factor but are not practical for a traditional site that constantly updates news and information and in the end this is what the users truly turn to the web for. iPad apps deliver interactive content features and a well curated information experience but at the same time in the world we live some news that is 5 minutes old can become old news.

    New developments like (export apps from inDesign) and phonegap (exports apps from HTML and CSS sites) help skill sets like HTML and inDesign adjust to these developments but at the moment the question of "what skill set do I need in the future for content design" is as unclear as ever. I wouldn't recommend HTML and CSS developers rush out and learn Objective C so they can develop in iPhone and Ipad's "native" environment but to be sure we should all be paying attention to the users as our first cue. The users have the purchasing power and in the end will be making the call when the dust settles. Print designers long ago adapted and updated their skill set to include web design as should web designers pay close attention and begin researching the rapidly changing methods of app development for the mobile world.

    It is hard to say if iPad, mobile or the next development will replace our laptops, desktops, and magazines.. in all likelihood it will remain a combination of all of these platforms and those of us who design around editorial content need to stay on top of all of the design tools. I know as a web designer I will be brushing up on my inDesign skills, print designers are learning web skills, and back end developers will continue to demonstrate their expertise under the hood of all of these apps and websites.. It is an exciting time to be designing around editorial content in spite of the anxiety every new technology produces.

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