Murdoch promises WSJ on the iPad
Like a web page, only more expensive
Murdoch has admitted that the Wall Street Journal is working on an iPad version, while Penguin has been demonstrating how the iPad can take content back to 1993.
Rupert Murdoch, owner of the WSJ, has been telling people that the newspaper has an iPad in the building, and is already porting content to Apple's latest baby. Meanwhile Penguin CEO John Makinson has been showing off titles as they might appear on the iPad, with interactive elements and embedded media in a style hugely reminiscent of the CD-ROM's launch, back when that medium was going to change the world.
According to Rupert Murdoch the WSJ only has one iPad, which is locked up by Apple every night, but that's obviously enough for the paper to have paid content available on the iPad at launch.
Penguin probably won't make the launch, but has much bigger plans than just reformatting existing content. In a video demonstration at the FT's Digital Media & Broadcasting Conference, recorded by PaidContent, Makinson shows how children's characters such as Spot the dog can be multimedia enabled, while a Dorling Kindersley title can have video of a beating heart embedded and available at a touch:
Eagle-eyed readers will notice that the paintbrush follows the finger when it's not touching the screen, something the iPad can't do, so it seems Penguin doesn't have the same early access as the WSJ. But nitpicking aside all of this will be strikingly familiar to anyone who rushed out and bought a Multimedia PC back in the 90s so they could experience the same thing on a computer screen. Back then CD-ROM was touted as "redefining the book" and "changing the way people read". Only it didn't.
It's amazing how quickly the novelty of video-embedded encyclopaedias faded
But there is a reason why the experiences are similar - both mediums required the reader (or user) to pay for the content, unlike a web site which must be financed through advertising or some sort of subscription. The iPad (with iTunes) opens up the opportunity to sell web sites, and that's what has Penguin, and the WSJ, so excited.
"The iPad represents the first real opportunity to create a paid distribution model that will be attractive to consumers," Makinson told attendees. "The .epub format ... is designed to support traditional narrative text ... So for the time being at least we’ll be creating a lot of our content as applications, for sale on app stores and HTML, rather than in ebooks. The definition of the book itself is up for grabs."
The problem of how to make people pay for web content has plagued the internet since its commercialisation, resulting in a whole generation that has become used to getting everything for free. But by providing an easy-to-use payment gateway (iTunes) Apple is changing that, and if publishers can get the public to think of their content as "applications" rather than "web pages" then they might just pay for them.
That model is already working for the WSJ on the iPhone, so the iPad is an obvious extension to that, but Penguin is going a couple of steps further and betting that anyone who'd pay $2 for the sound of a fart would cough up a few quid for an interactive copy of Pride and Prejudice*.
* We'd prefer more zombies than videos of Keira Knightly and Colin Firth, but that's a personal preference. ®
ipad, multimedia pc, etc.
So, first of, I think the ipad is stuipd; I want flash on my browser (option to turn it off, too, but there's too much flash stuff to just say "no" to it. Adobe has a flash port for ARMs, and even one specifically for iphone/ipad, apple just says no. Apple's restrictiveness with app store (and requiring rooting just to install your own apps), etc. is unappealing, I want a keyboard on both my phone and netbook, etc. etc.
BUT comparing WSJ on an ipad to MPC is silly. Quite simply, paper WSJ is articles with a photo or figure here and there. This is a completely reasonable thing to have even as (as the article quips) 1993-era HTML. I think Murdoch is crazy if he thinks he's going to be able to "paywall" everything he has like varoius generic news sites and such,, but WSJ is also something people have paid dearly for all along, it's kind of an "exception to the rule" really.
And the brief MPC fad of the early 1990s? I don't think this has much to do with the issue.
My parents got a 486 that (barely) met MPC specs, 2x CD-ROM drive, all that. It came with a CD encyclopedia. It was a little slow, and somewhat incomplete -- it "blew it's load" on some video and audio clips for a couple dozen articles, and articles for the rest were a bit short, and sparsely illustrated, compared to a dead tree encyclopedia we already had. So the CD encyclopedia was not used. Based on that I could see MPC stuff not catching on. The second blow, the internet. Wikipedia did not contribute to the decline of MPC, they are seperated by like 10 years, but paying for CD content was rather unappealing as soon as I found a copy of NCSA Mosaic, and then Netscape 0.9, and got online.. ( When we signed up with our ISP it was early enough that we signed an NSFNet agreement to not transmit commercial traffic over the National Science Foundation backbone.) The final nail in the coffin, MPC otherwise faded out naturally... that 486 shipped with a 420MB hard disk, so accessing data on CD seemed like a great idea; as hard disks rapidly got bigger it made more sense to pop in the CD once to install everything to the hard disk, then safely lock that disk away; also since MPC focused on having a CD-ROM drive, audio, and video, it no longer made sense to refer to MPC after every computer had a CD-ROM, fast enough video card and CPU, and a sound card.
@RichyS With a 24 month contract and hideous roaming charges, I doubt it will be cheap.
The iPad will be a good "lounge" device for surving the net (without flash of course).
Reading on it, I just don't see the point. My kindle is far better; the battery lasts for weeks at a time, it has an easy to read screen, doesn't have a contract and doesn't have any roaming charges. When I read, I just want to do exactly that. I want the content. I want the text. I don't want pages "animated" as I go from one to the next.
Multimedia Encylopedia's didn't change the way we read. Wikipedia did. I don't want the content changed, I just want better, easier, quicker access to it.
For everything else I have my netbook. Jobs says "netbooks don't do anything well". Of course sell. They do that pretty well don't they Steve? The reason for that being they have a keyboard, fold away when not in use, are cheap, and have a built in stand so I can watch movies in bed.
...is now being made into a move, starring Natalie Portman, allowing the fantasy to become reality!