Tomorrow, if the stars align, Apple could unleash a device that’s sexier than reading a magazine. A glossy screen like the iPhone, quality content in the iTunes store for a (hopefully) reasonable price, major publishes on board and independent publishers like me able to join in.
Apple already has all the pieces in place. The iTunes music store, right now, has magazines in it. You probably didn’t even know that. They’re using the podcast framework to distribute PDFs. But that falls back into the old problem of reading PDFs on a computer (it sucks) and charging for content (you can’t).
But an Apple device that leverages the power of the iTunes store, that makes it easy to buy and read digital content, that opens up for participation from all kinds of publishers … it could be the missing piece of the puzzle.
It’s the same hole they filled with the iPod. When it came out, there were CDs on one side (physical media for sale) and file-sharing on the other (free but dodgy). The iPod filled the media experience gap, and the iTunes store filled the payment side. Many pundits said it wouldn’t work. It worked.
It’s critically important for public broadcasters to watch the introduction of the Apple tablet. It’s the first device of what is likely to be a new era — an era that might make paying for non-music digital content a reasonable proposition for millions of people.