By Evelyn Rusli
We’ve fiercely debated the merits of the iPad (here and here and here and here) and whether Apple’s “magical” device will transform the mass market. The question, of course, is not whether the iPad is the leader in the tablet market but whether the iPad will become the iPod of its market. And if the iPad is indeed the iPod, how does that shape the digital strategy of publishers?
At the Big Money Untethered conference in New York this Thursday, a cluster of top publishers including Donald Graham (CEO, Washington Post (WPO)), Carolyn Reidy (CEO, Simon Schuster), Vivian Schiller (CEO, NPR) and Sarah Chubb (President, Conde Nast Digital), gathered to answer those questions and evaluate the explosive tablet market (according to Forrester Research, there will be 59 million tablets in use by 2015). We pitched a simple question to the panelists, does the iPad change everything and how is it transforming their business? Their answers in the video above.
Vivian Schiller, CEO, NPR
It’s definitely a transformative device…[iPad] is the most distributed, well known tablet, there’s no question other manufacturers will come in with other variations of the tablet but the idea of this new form factor is a really exciting one.
And for us, the way that it’s transforming our business is we have created an application for the iPhone, excuse me for the iPad, there’s too many i’s out there! That is really designed specifically for the form factor of the tablet…and it is designed for the size and scale of the iPad…it’s been tremedously popular we’ve had over 350,000 downloads so far and there are only 2 million iPads in circulation. So what is that 1 in 6?
I would never bet against Apple (AAPL).
Carolyn Reidy, CEO Simon & Schuster
I would say that it has transformed our industry because it is the first reader that has enabled us to combine text with video…It’s the first thing that will enable us to do children books, to make digital children books, to make enhanced e-books, and to actually make a combination of video and reading book that is not an app. In our world it’s very difficult to do an app it gets lost…the audience for a book is not the size for most of these apps that sell hundreds of thousands.
Jacob Weisberg, Chairman, The Slate Group
I think when the history of the era is written, it’s the Kindle that will be seen as the breakthrough device…even though it’s already been superseded in many ways by the iPad…It was really the Kindle that ushered in the post-Gutenberg and showed that a printed book was no longer necessarily the best way to read a book.
The iPad is a great toy…Everybody wants one, but the question is, is everyone going to need one?…In the short to medium term, I think the iPad is going to be very dominant…but long term I’m not sure I would bet on it as the dominant device because I think Apple does have the tendency to make the same mistake again and again, which is that it likes closed systems….It doesn’t like the messiness of the internet but unfortunately messiness is part of what makes the internet the internet.
Sarah Chubb, President, Conde Nast Digital
I think that the iPad is transformative because it’s changing how consumers think about the mobile web and how they think about content consumption…
To me it’s not really about the iPad itself, it’s about consumers seeing that they can do things differently and enjoying it which will make them do it more…Even just one year from now, we’re going to look back on it and many, many things will have changed as a result of that.