On April 3, the iPad era will begin. And yes, Rex will be at the Apple store early that morning to pick up the one he has reserved. That should be no surprise. On his blog, Rex has become noted for his accurate predictions about what the iPad would be, starting back in July 2006. He even Photoshopped a concept of the device in November 2007. And a year ago, he miscalculated the date it would be announced, but came pretty close to describing the device, down to the pricing.
As Rex and I are the resident Mac-heads in the office, I thought I’d use this “count-down week” to interview him about why he believes the iPad is such a big deal — especially when it comes to the business we’re in: Custom media and content marketing.
1. What is it about the iPad that will attract content marketers to develop for it?
I think marketers should be attracted to any medium where their audience can be found. So if they are part of a market that includes early adopters, then yes, they should be early developers. But, frankly, I don’t think every marketer should be developing for the iPad. Many need to get their conventional content marketing strategy in order before heading out to new platforms.
However, even if they don’t develop for the iPad, I believe marketers should get them and use them to understand what they’re all about. How they differ from the conventional notebook or desktop computer.
2. What does the iPad offer content marketers that previous/other machines cannot?
For marketers immersed in the past 20 years of digital media (or gadget freaks and sci-fi fans), the iPad will look like the logical next step in a predictable march to the future. For most consumers, however, there was a need for the iPhone era to come before the iPad so that non-techy consumers could begin to understand the idea of super light-weight, single-function utility software — described by the genius marketers at Apple.
For three years, Apple ads have brilliantly described all the cool things you’d like to be able to do, with the punch line: There’s an app for that.
Well, now there will an app for everything, except on a screen big enough to provide a wide-array of content and features to provide a better experience and the ability to provide more context to the content being accessed.
3. Does it lend itself better to paid content than unpaid? eBooks vs. articles/other short content pieces? Why?
Unless you are in the gaming, entertainment or media or specialized data-services business, I don’t think most companies will find iPad apps a great business model. The better way to view it is as a means to support your existing business model.
eBooks, eCatalogs/magalogs and other obvious first generation efforts will be tried — and should work. But you need to remember, however, that the iPad’s web browser will provide the ability to surf the internet with a screen size that makes it as easy to use as a smaller notebook. So most conventional ways people carry out ecommerce and surfing the web and checking email or Facebook will be quite similar on an iPad as they are today.
4. How will the iPad help marketers reach their audience?
It’s another channel that can be mixed in with existing channels. Also, it’s another way in which marketers are the media and have the ability to directly connect with their customers rather than be forced to reach their customers via a traditional media company.
5. What kind of content apps do you see being developed for the iPad?
Strangely, most of the prototype “content apps” I’ve seen look very similar to CD-ROM interactive media we were developing back in 1990. Editorial with pop-up video is not the end-all, be-all of content, however. I think content that is integrated directly into the sales process will be one area of opportunity. Media and contextual information that helps customers understand better what they are purchasing.
5. How is it a “game-changer”?
Megan, you and I have been Mac users a long time — in fact, I’ve been one for almost as long as you’ve been alive. (Ed. note: True, but I did start using Apple computers in 1984 — just not a Macintosh. I’m older than I look!) They create game-changers by obsessively focusing on developing technology for the user who is not a techie. As I’ve displayed over the last four years with my prediction posts, it’s not hard to anticipate what the next iteration in technology is going to be. However, it is near impossible to pull off all the design, engineering and “user-experience” (UX) necessary to put new technology in the hands of consumers and for them to intuitively and instantly know what to do with it to make something in their lives easier, more productive or outrageously fun. And the iPad will do that.