The impact of the iPad

In Gadgets, General, Media by John4 Comments

The iPad has now been in the news for a couple of days, so it’s time I made a few observations. My first sight of it was when I got an email from Apple  introducing the iPad.  The following image was at the top of the email, and it gave me concerns about the impact the iPad might have on bookshops that you can walk into, and the online newspapers and magazines that are currently free.

The iPad looks quite good, and it seems harmless enough, but why did Apple choose to show The New York Times on the iPad screen in the introduction to the long awaited Apple tablet.  I”m sure Steve Jobs would have approved the choice.

An article in The Age online newspaper stated today:

The Apple chief gave credit to Amazon for doing a great job, adding: ”[But] we’re going to stand on their shoulders and go a bit further.” Books – including textbooks – will be able to be downloaded from Apple’s new online iBookstore shop and read using a new application.

Mr Jobs said five of the world’s leading publishers – Hachette, Penguin, HarperCollins, Simon & Schuster and Macmillan – had already signed up and that more would follow.

Among other content partners in the presentation was The New York Times, which demonstrated a rich and interactive digital version of the paper, using an iPad application.

The paper’s head of digital operations, Martin Nisenholtz, said he was delighted to help ”pioneer the next version of digital journalism”.

Note the reference to  The New York Times being a content partner involved in the presentation by Steve Jobs and the comment by the paper’s head of digital operations.   I’m sure the newspaper didn’t come on board at the last minute before the presentation.   But I haven’t seen any mention this week of a report last week:

(Reuters) – The New York Times Co Chairman Arthur Sulzberger is close to announcing that the paper will begin charging for access to its website, New York Magazine reported on its Web site citing people familiar with internal deliberations.


A final decision could come within days and a plan could be announced in a matter of weeks, reported.

“It will likely be months before the Times actually begins to charge for content, perhaps sometime this spring,” the report said.

Apple Inc’s tablet computer is rumored to launch on January 27, and sources speculate that Sulzberger will strike a content partnership for the new device, which could dovetail with the paid strategy, the magazine reported over the weekend.

“We’ll announce a decision when we believe that we have crafted the best possible business approach. No details till then,” the report quoted a Times spokeswoman as saying.

The New York Times went through a period where it charged a subscription fee which I thought was far too high in $A terms  for a newspaper that I might only visit now and again, because it’s free.  It might be different if I lived in New York.

The question is:  Were the NYT considerations to start charging for access to its website because of the impact that they thought the iPad would have on readers?

There is a very interesting article in The Age here about what former NSW premier (and a director of Dymocks bookstores) has to say about the effect of digital reading devices on book sellers in Australia, because of the over-pricing of books here.   Some of the reader’s comments are very interesting, as there is a discussion about the type of screen that the iPad uses compared with the Kindle and its readability and effect on eyesight.  Mind you, those comments are all “off post” (not what the article is about), so while I’d take all their comments into account, I wouldn’t base a purchase decision on them.

Former NSW premier Bob Carr says the arrival of digital book reading devices such as Apple’s iPad make it imperative for the Federal Government to lift bans on book sellers from buying cheap stock overseas.


  1. I won’t comment on the name, but the iPad greatly disappointed me. I expected something much more innovative than a giant crippled iPhone.

    1. Author

      Everyone seems to be likening the iPad to an iPhone, but isn’t more like the iPod Touch, which is like an iPhone without a mobile phone? In any event, it seems to me to be halfway between an iPhone without the phone, and a MacBook, within terms of size. But there’s a massive difference. The iPhone, and presumably the iPad, can only load apps from the Apple store. There’s nothing wrong with that as far as the iPhone is concerned. Some of the apps are very useful, and it’s truly wonderful to have them on the iPhone which I use many times a day for the apps (but rarely for a phone call). And of course, every time I go out, I carry the iPhone in a trouser or jacket pocket.

      The iPad reminds me of the law of diminishing returns, which I learnt about in the Economics course at Adelaide University in 1959. At present I’ve had my iPhone for 14 months and it gets a great amount of use at home, because of the apps. But if those apps were on the much bigger iPad screen, and updated to make good use of the bigger screen, I’d have to say that I’d go with the iPad. And my enjoyment and usefulness of the iPhone (other than as a phone) would diminish.

      1. I guess because the iPad can use 3G it is more like the iPhone (although it uses a microSIM that is not available in Oz. Yes the bigger screen is more attractive as I have to strain my eyes a bit to read my iPhone as I get older.

        1. Author

          I’ll be interested to see the iPad in the flesh with some of the apps I have on my iPhone, to see whether it’s a “must have” or whether the extra size and weight, and maybe heat (?), make it less appealing. The thing I love about the iPhone is that it’s so small and light, and comfortable to hold in one hand (for hours if I want) and carry in a pocket and not notice it’s there – and yet it contains hundreds of books to read, plus lots of dictionaries, the complete works of Shakespeare, bibles, the Book of Common Prayer (Anglican), atomic clock, weather bureau forecasts and information, games; all my contact, calendar, notes, memos and other details, Internet browser, email program, and so on – plus camera. The list goes on. And it doesn’t even add a gram of weight to my mobile phone that I carry whenever I go out.

          At this stage I haven’t seen the iPad in the flesh, so I can’t imagine what the impact would be on my iPhone usage if I had an iPad with all my iPhone apps on it. But there are many situations where I think the small size of the iPhone would win the day for me – both at home, and almost certainly when I go out. I would definitely not sit on a train with an iPad in my hand to read a book or play a game or send an email, and then have to carry it in my hands everywhere I go. The iPhone fits in my trouser and jacket pockets, and is not conspicuous. It doesn’t scream “Hey, mug me for my iPad.”

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