Thank goodness we have something to fill up the cold, light-deprived days of January: speculation about a new Apple tablet computer. Apple’s got a big press event scheduled for Jan. 26 and the blogosphere is overflowing with rumors that it will announce a flat-screen portable computer that’ll make the Amazon Kindle look like an Etch-a-Sketch.
Huffington Post relates rumors that Apple has registered the domain iSlate, presumably because that’s the name of the new device. However, iTablet has also been suggested. Pocketlint has a collection of 56 concept images that have been posted online, just like the one at right. Most depict the tablet as being an oversized iPhone, which we hope it isn’t. One of the most appealing factors about the iPhone is its light weight and hand-feel. There’s no more reason to believe the iPhone will scale larger than there is to believe a Cooper Mini would make a good SUV.
The New York Times’ Alice Rawsthorn notes that while a lot of people like their e-readers, few people love them. “If a really great e-reader appeared, the market would explode,” she writes. And she adds, “If it comes through, demand for electronic books, newspapers and magazines should soar.”
That’s one reason publishing pundits are so hot on this rumored product. The iPod/iPhone has managed to crack the code of creating successful paid content models. The Kindle has legitimized that concept in the book and magazine publishing world, although Amazon’s onerous licensing terms irk publishers. If the iSlate or iTablet or whatever it’s called can create explosive demand for a universal media player, then content producers may have a chance to develop meaningful subscription models around it.
To get some ideas about where this whole trend could go, read Mark Potts’ essay. “Most of those speculating about Apple’s tablet aren’t thinking big enough….I believe the Apple tablet has the potential to strikingly transform large swaths of the media business, from newspapers to television to movies, pretty much all at once,” he writes. Potts goes on to suggest that a successful portable media device could unify the various platforms by which people now receive information into a single experience. For example, TV programs could be downloaded to the device for playback anywhere, with the video automatically switching to a high-definition TV in the home when the viewer enters the room.
And if you think about the possibilities of what some people are calling “augmented reality,” then portable TV is just a start. Information will be combined from multiple sources to create a constantly flowing river of data in different forms. Think the cacophony of a cable news channel screen, only clickable and aware of its location.
Yes, Apple has had failures in the past, but under Steve Jobs they’ve been few and far between. Our guess is that Jobs would never just spring a bigger iPhone on the market. He’s got his people thinking bigger and whatever results will certainly have the potential to be game-changing. It will certainly give us something to talk about between chattering teeth over the next few weeks.
A Giant’s Sudden Passing
We never met Deborah Howell, but anyone whose passing merits moving remembrances from the likes of Ken Doctor and Jeff Jarvis must have been someone special. Howell, 68, was the former assistant managing editor of the Minneapolis Star and executive editor of the St. Paul Pioneer Press. Most recently, she was ombudsman at the Washington Post (we did note one of her Post columns almost two years ago to the day). She died last Friday after being hit by a car while crossing the street near Blenheim, New Zealand. The trip had been a lifelong dream.
Ken Doctor remembers her as an editor with “a hard edge and a soft heart.” She was prone to expletives and the occasional “because I said so,” but she also gave him advice that has served him for a lifetime: “Every once in a while, a voice will say, hold on, check it again, is that what you really want your newspaper to say?”
Jarvis remembers her as a veteran of traditional journalism who was caught up in the maelstrom over the shift to online. While a staunch defender of traditional values, he also remembers her as someone who embraced new ideas with fervor. When they recently worked together on a controversial project to take the Ann Arbor News online, “I was the one holding Deborah down as she grabbed new ideas with the fervor of a convert and fretted that we weren’t being radical enough.”
Tim McGuire has a moving tribute about his lifelong love-hate relationship with Howell. The New York Times’ David Carr shares a remembrance of how Howell once dressed him down at his own awards banquet and how he later came to love her.
Politico On a Tear
An eagle eyed editor at paidcontent.org spied an opportunity in Allbritton Communications’ recent earning announcement to get a glimpse at the financial picture of The Politico, a new-breed Capitol Hill publisher that many people think will serve as a model for future news organizations.
Reporter Rafat Ali says this is a one-time deal; Allbritton has distributed shares of The Politico to a family-owned holding company and won’t have to break out the financials again in the future. The 2009 numbers show dramatic growth over the last three years, with The Politico likely to easily top $20 million this year. Revenues are on a $6 million quarterly run rate and the operation broke into the black in 2009. Much of the revenue comes from the print issue distributed on weekdays, demonstrating that there is life for news on paper if it hits the right audience with information they can’t get elsewhere.
This entry was posted on Monday, January 4th, 2010 at 11:04 am and is filed under Business News, BusinessModel, Journalism, NewMedia. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.