The Apple iPad launched this past weekend amid mass, but not untoward, hype and hysteria. I have been playing with Steve’s gift to the media and am seriously impressed – not just with the elegant machine I am holding in my hands, but with the future it points towards.
I hope that readers of this blog, who must start-out with a certain interest in all things Thomson Reuters, will download and try our new News Pro application for the iPad. It is being prominently featured in the iPad applications section of iTunes.
But that is not why I am posting this item. For some years now I have been arguing in this blog and elsewhere that the death of newspapers (or more accurately, some newspapers) does not portend the death of journalism. I have maintained that many media executives have been wearing a type of blinders that make them incapable of seeing beyond the current version of “paper” as the output device or medium for their efforts.
What the iPad represents for me is a trail of breadcrumbs along a path to the future of media. Sure, even the Day 1 version out of the box is cool, functional and performant. But what is really exciting to me is the direction that Apple is pointing. What will the son or grandson of iPad be like? Do you remember your original white iPod with its control wheel? I bet it is sitting at the bottom of a drawer waiting to join your Sony Walkman and TRS-80 (for you old-timers) in your personal tech museum.
I believe we are going to see a recovery and rebirth of “newspapers” and “magazines” on the iPad, and even more so on future devices. Now that a new generation of digital natives are moving into positions of authority at many publications, they are ready to exploit the full range of expression that the new medium permits. So, for example, if Vogue magazine has a story and photo layout of the latest Prada collection from Milan, why not a video of the catwalk – right in the “magazine” you read and not on some special PC-accessible web site. Ditto, Sports Illustrated, L’Equipe or Tuttosport.
Where do we go from here? Well, first, I think we should play and enjoy the current iPad -- or even better, the 3G/wifi version coming soon. Later versions will undoubtedly be lighter, brighter for use in sunny locations, and have even longer-lived batteries. I still think that we eventually will come to use a very lightweight and flexible plastic sheet, controlled by touch and by a next generation iPhone- like device, as our high quality “paper.” However, in the meantime just enjoy the voyage – it’s going to be a fun ride.