From Black Web 2.0
Apple’s done it again. The iPad has landed and the populace is caught in the frenzy. News broadcasts showed excited gadget-lovers camped out for hours in anticipation of being the first kid on the block with Apple’s new toy. When it was all said and done, approximately 300,000 units were sold over the first weekend and about 600,000 iPads were sold over the course of a week. The tablet has been basking in positive reviews which have the publishing industry licking its collective chops.
Why is the publishing industry so happy about the iPad’s early success? Since the seed of the idea of the iPad first planted itself in the world’s collective psyche, magazines and newspapers have seen the gadget as a much-needed savior. With ever-plummeting subscriptions and ad dollars due to people turning to the web to get their news, the publishing industry has been frantically searching for something to raise its fortunes.
Billed as a “Kindle-killer,” iPad users can download the free iBooks application to purchase books. Users can also download their favorite publications onto their iPad, provided the magazine or newspaper has created an app. That in itself isn’t a big deal. Other than being able to read your books or magazine in color, there’s really not that big a difference. What has the publications so thrilled with Apple is the pay model.
Amazon has been engaged with a battle with the publishing houses to raise prices from a set $9.99. Apple has the publishing houses’ noses open with the promise of books priced between $12.99-$14.99 with the publisher in control of the pricing. Needless to say, the publishing companies are seeing dollar signs, which is great for the book publishers but what about the magazines and newspapers?
The magazine and newspaper industries are still trying to find their footing in the digital playing field and in the case of African-American publications, they are woefully behind. The concern continues to be how to serve up content in a way that doesn’t cannibalize the print content. It’s incredulous to think that many mags have yet to figure out how to find a happy balance. In many instances, people visiting their favorite magazine’s website, they find a poor user experience. Lackluster content, unappealing layout, obvious signs that the people in charge gave some poor website developer a few measly dollars to slap something together.
But this isn’t the case with the whole of the industry. The big name publishers (Time Inc., Conde Nast. Etc.) have created slick applications that will keep readers coming back for more. But wait a second, isn’t Essence a Time Inc. property? Where’s their app? Or how about Ebony? Vibe?
The iPad is a snazzy new toy and if first week’s sales are any indication; it’s going to do well. Apple’s sales will not equate to publication rejuvenation. Without a new business model, a lot of our favorite reads are going to be in the same place they started, spinning their wheels in digital quagmire with no tow-truck in sight.
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