Friday, November 26, 2010

iPad, where the smart money is?

In his bid to try and overcome the public's perception that internet=free, Rupert Murdoch has begun erecting paywalls around his various online publications with, according to reports, only mediocre success.

The reality is that I suspect even Murdoch himself doesn't honestly believe that trying to charge people for content they've been getting for free for so long will succeed.

That's why he's pouring $30m into creating content for the nascent iPad publishing market where he hopes that a change of medium will also mean a change of heart from penny-pinching readers.

This time he's probably a lot closer to the money, since I'd wager that those who invest in an iPad probably have a higher level of disposable income as a group, than do the great unwashed masses who simply browse the web for their entertainment and information.

Adding further weight to the belief that Murdoch has finally spotted a solution to leveraging content for cash, uber-successful entrepreneur Richard Branson has also announced that he'll be launching an iPad-based publication, although it's not clear whether this will be solely ad-funded or if it will involve a subscription.

Branson's focus on the iPad platform ads a significant endorsement to the future of the device as an alternative to paper for "glossy format" magazine-type publications -- although somewhat different to Murdoch's tabloid pulp offerings.

Both men now face the task of finding innovative, skilled developers and content creators who can best leverage the extra interactivity and power that this new platform provides. The worst thing they could do is simply repurpose existing content from print or the web to the iPad. Fortunately, it would appear that neither intends to adopt such a crude approach.

I suspect that these two giants will be the first of many who embrace the iPad as the ideal transition platform and a great way to prepare for the inevitable arrival of low-priced full-color, full motion e-readers based on flexible display technology. The lessons learned through the developing of content and strategies for presenting content on the iPad will place such publishers in good stead to take the next step, once the technology is ready.

What does this mean for web-users who currently expect to find all the content they want on webpages?

Well I suspect that publishers like Murdoch will reserve their most valuable content for their iPad publications, where it can be leveraged to extract the maximum revenues by way of subscription.

Will that mean a decline in the quantity and quality of web-based content?

I doubt it. In fact we may see quite the opposite.

As the Murdochs and Bransons of the world shift to iPad, that will leave a void that there will be no shortage of other publishers willing to fill. In fact, the change may be quite refreshing.

Free lunches are still on the menu for internet users.

No comments:

Post a Comment