industry news / innovation

The iPad and College Media – first impressions

the unicorn ponyYesterday was a fascinating day in technology, as Apple unveiled another of its “revolutionary” products. I listened to Leo LaPorte’s streaming audio of the presentation and followed along with gdgt.com‘s live updates.

I suppose this is the point at which I should weigh in and say how the iPad (horrible name) will either change publishing or be another flop. Many others, far brighter and more intelligent than I, have already done so.

The truth is, I don’t know. I’ve said many times before on this blog that at some point a device will come along that will draw students away from the printed product. Is this it? I don’t know. Truth is, nobody will know anything for at least 60 days (that’s when Apple will start delivery).

And as much as Martin Nisenholtz of the New York Times wants to talk about how great the Times’ app for the iPad is, nobody’s really seen it in action, so it’s a lot of vaporware.

It’s easy to talk about how much the iPad will spur media to innovate (look at the links above), but the World Wide Web was supposed to do that, too. As was the iPhone. Everything is supposed to cause media companies to really focus on innovating their storytelling ways, but they haven’t done it so much. They talk a good game, and produce a few nice baubles, but mostly it’s cranking out the same old same old. Ditto college media.

Any talk at this point about whether this is going to change the game for college media outlets is pie in the sky. The iPad isn’t going to deliver a magical unicorn pony, no matter what Steve Jobs says. But I’ve been wrong before (see Twitter, circa 2007), so I’m not going out on a limb here.

One thing I will mention: If I had the programming chops, I’d be developing an app that would make it easy for college news outlets to put their content on this thing. I’d make it relatively cheap (monthly subscriptions?) and available day one. I’d call it the “College Newsstand” or something, and sign up as many as possible. Anyone who knows how to do that, I’ve just given you a job for the next few years, assuming this thing takes off.