The iPad as a news platform: First impressions

The first law of technological change is that nobody knows what is possible or profitable, so you can either get right in there and experiment, or wait a few years and emulate the winners.  Now that the first generation of newspapers and magazines for the iPad have been released, the backseat drivers are emerging, saying that it won’t work, it won’t pay, and why is everyone so obsessed with this overhyped iPad thing anyway?

Are they right?  I have no idea.  Nobody does, and it’s a bit pointless to speculate.  Media companies must choose: Experiment, or wait.  High risk, high reward, or low risk, low reward.  Whatever their choice is, it’s too soon to tell.  What matters right now is your subjective feelings as a user.

Now that I’ve tried it, I see why media companies are excited about the iPad.  I wouldn’t mind paying for news content in this form.  But I also realize that this isn’t about the iPad as a revolutionary media device.  It’s about the iPad as a wedge, that can introduce the habit of paying for digital news.  First on tablets, then on smart phones, and finally on the web itself.

Some say that they would never pay for digital news.  I think they’re lying.  Or if not, they’re morally wrong.  It offends me, this idea that good writing isn’t worth paying for.  I don’t know what will work, (and neither do you), but I root for anyone who tries. And the iPad is an interesting place to try it.

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