Feeds

Murdoch promises WSJ on the iPad

Like a web page, only more expensive

Security for virtualized datacentres

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.

Multimedia PC Logo

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. ®

Business security measures using SSL

More from The Register

next story
Hey, Scots. Microsoft's Bing thinks you'll vote NO to independence
World's top Google-finding website calls it for the UK
Phones 4u slips into administration after EE cuts ties with Brit mobe retailer
More than 5,500 jobs could be axed if rescue mission fails
Apple CEO Tim Cook: TV is TERRIBLE and stuck in the 1970s
The iKing thinks telly is far too fiddly and ugly – basically, iTunes
Huawei ditches new Windows Phone mobe plans, blames poor sales
Giganto mobe firm slams door shut on Microsoft. OH DEAR
Phones 4u website DIES as wounded mobe retailer struggles to stay above water
Founder blames 'ruthless network partners' for implosion
Found inside ISIS terror chap's laptop: CELINE DION tunes
REPORT: Stash of terrorist material found in Syria Dell box
OECD lashes out at tax avoiding globocorps' location-flipping antics
You hear that, Amazon, Google, Microsoft et al?
Big Content Australia just blew a big hole in its credibility
AHEDA's research on average content prices did not expose methodology, so appears less than rigourous
prev story

Whitepapers

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.
WIN a very cool portable ZX Spectrum
Win a one-off portable Spectrum built by legendary hardware hacker Ben Heck
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Security and trust: The backbone of doing business over the internet
Explores the current state of website security and the contributions Symantec is making to help organizations protect critical data and build trust with customers.