What the iPod was to the music industry, the iPad is to magazines.

The magazine and print industries could learn a thing or two from the music industry.  Instead of fighting technology and insisting on ridiculous licensing fees and DRM restrictions, the world of print should embrace their new overlord.

Magazines and newspapers, after all, are dying.  Just like the music industry was back in 2000.  Rather than claw their way to the grave, drowning in obsolescence, publishers have now been thrown a rather unique life raft.  With the advent and inevitable popularity of Apple’s iPad (or whatever stupid name they pick for it), the land of print now has the opportunity to cut costs, go digital, and become even more compelling.  And people will pay for it too.  Just like they did with iTunes.  That is, if they do it right…

Imagine “flipping” through the pages of Time, reading the articles, browsing the picture galleries, watching the embedded videos, and clicking the table of contents!  “THEIR WEBSITE IS THE SAME EXACT THING”, you say!  Not exactly.  The web is obviously great for looking up information and reading the occasional article, but it’s hardly the best format for magazine or newspaper reading.  Reason being is mostly the form factor.  I don’t want to sit in front of my computer to read my People magazine.  I want to sit on my couch.  More importantly, I want to sit on my couch without a keyboard (or hot laptop) on my lap.  I don’t want to click a mouse or struggle with a trackpad either.  The iPhone solves this, but it’s much to small and slow.  The iPad could solve all of these problems.

In addition to form factor, the iPad represents a clean slate for the design of a digital publication.  The public has no expectations on what it should look like, and there is no reason publishers should use web technology when building their publications for their respective iTunes subscriptions/iPad apps.  We should be able to break free from standard (read, boring) designed-for-web publication portals.  The New York Times website (while looking similar to its print counter-part) is boring to look at and read on the internet.  The New York Times: iPad Subscription Edition could be exciting to read, flip through, and discover.

Hopefully publishers have the balls to hire some designers, and some slick interactive developers (NOT HTML CODERS!), and actually develop something revolutionary that gets us wanting to read again.  Or, they could just do a stupid RSS feed and blow a perfectly good opportunity to become profitable again.  After seeing the Sports Illustrated demo of what they could become, I have hope… but I’m not holding my breath.

Will the print industry accept, transform, and change the way we are served quality media and publications?  Or will they resist (or worse, miss the mark), and die a slow death, going the way of the music label?

Perhaps we’ll find out tomorrow?


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