Have you been following iPad in the news? It's not really a frenzy…of course there are the fanboys, but when you ask people on the street, there's a lukewarm sentiment perhaps even hostility toward the iPad. Perhaps we're just comparing it to the waves the iPod and iPhone created with their launch, but don't mistake the quiet for a failure. The iPad looks like it might just turn out to be one of the ‘game changers' after all.
Even if the iPad flops, something is changing with media, and that's the piece that held print publications from moving over to web, it's that argument that ‘you can't cuddle with on the sofa with your laptop.' (I do) or ‘you can't take it to bed with you' (I do that too). What's different however, is that with the iPad we'll have more application based publications with interactive features rather than websites. It's almost the same media, but not quite. Over the weekend Interview Magazine became the first to launch a fashion magazine as an iPad application:
From here, it looks a lot like they just made PDFs with video embedding, where it would be difficult to distribute something like this before, as an application, it's much easier. PDF has been the way to publish eBooks and magazines in the past to maintian design integrity, however, it's main pitfall is that it's easy to duplicate and easy to lose track of. With the application format, it won't take long before they start designing layouts friendlier to the format, but this really looks like the beginning of a new era for online media.
Brave New World
I'm not the only one who's thinking this, Condé Nast launched five of their magazines in iPad format over the weekend as well, including Glamour and GQ…
“This seems not only like an exciting moment in publishing but the first bright, backlit day of a new era, so GQ is proud to be right there at the launch of it,” said Jim Nelson, editor-in-chief of GQ.
Vogue hasn't announced when it will launch their version, but they have loads of iPhone apps already in existence, same with Elle.com, Nylon, apps look like the way for magazines and brands to control interactive content. Which is all fantastic, considering the established media has not really traveled the same road as bloggers, it only makes sense they enter the interactive world differently.
Then there's the whole issue of selling content through the Apple Store and their terms and conditions. This really changes Apple's position in the media landscape, because not only are they creating the tools, they're the gatekeepers to the media we consume. They haven't done anything too crazy, not like Kindle deleting sold copies of 1984. But I wouldn't be surprised.
What does this mean for independent publishers? Bloggers?
But what does application-based content mean to bloggers? I was just thinking about this the other day, when thinking about how the medium has a huge impact on the content. You really can't write a ten-page article in a blog post, heck when I was on blogspot, with a 480px column width, I was lucky to squeak out 200 words without overwhelming my readers. The design of blogs are extremely simple, you can't just place a video in a composition as seamlessly displayed in the Interview demo. Each post generally has the same column width, photo placement and the interaction on the reader's side is generally the same, scroll, click, scroll click. What happens when you add different gestures into your reading experience? Things change, it's subtle, but it changes.
Being an independent blogger probably means you don't have your own tech team to program an application, so perhaps in the next few months we'll see plug-ins to make our blogs iPad friendly, and hopefully we'll see competitor gadgets coming sooner rather than later. Perhaps this is too your queue to create a magazine or an eBook for your blog in an iPad format.
Have you got your iPad? Are you waiting? Or already working on launching your own fashion applications?
UPDATE: there's an interesting article about Digital Magazines on The Fashion Techie