Steve Jobs at the D8 Conference


There’s a whole series of short videos here, in which Steve Jobs discusses Apple, technology, the media industry, and how the iPad came into being. It’s all worth a look. He discusses, among other things, the future of journalism, how he’s trying to persuade the media industry to be more aggressive on pricing (“cut prices and go for volume”), and how traditional PC manufacturers are probably going to be hurting as tablet computers like the iPad take over.

Most of the videos are between 3 and 5 minutes. Steve Jobs appears to be thinking on his feet and answering the questions as thoughtfully as he can in the live setting. This is not one of his keynote presentations, but you get to see how charismatic and persuasive he is (his “reality distortion field”) and how passionate he is about certain things.

Apple have recently overtaken Microsoft as the world’s largest tech company by market capitalisation (share price). He dismisses that as “surreal but irrelevant”, but it’s worth pointing out. This is the company that a lot of the rest of the media industry are resting their hopes on.

Steve Jobs | D8 Conference | AllThingsD

iA » WIRED on iPad: Just like a Paper Tiger…


Here’s an interesting discussion about the new Wired magazine app for the iPad. This is a big deal because Wired is a popular technology title and its audience are all going to be interested in both the magazine and the device it’s being read on. The app has been getting rave reviews from a lot of people, but others have complained about the quantity of ads.

The guys at iA are working on several designs for magazines on iPad, so they kind of know what they’re talking about when they lay into its design: WIRED on iPad: Just like a Paper Tiger….

First, the paper magazine was crammed into the little iPad frame. To compensate for the lack of interactive logic, this pretty package was provided with a fruity navigation. In the end it was spiced with in-app links, plucked with a couple of movies and salted with audio files (”interactive”). Then it was off to marketing. And it sold 24,000 copies. Dammit. It’s the Nineties all over again.

The amazing thing for me is that Wired seem to have done exactly what Apple are encouraging developers not to do: instead of using Apple’s own development tools to create native iPhone and iPad applications, they used Adobe InDesign and rendered their iPad app as flat graphics (PNG files). All of which means that the fonts don’t look crisp, the user can’t control the way things display, and the overall experience is (by some accounts) slightly disappointing (especially for something costing £2.99).

If the iPad’s the answer, what’s the question again? David Hepworth


David Hepworth sounds a note of caution on the iPad. Yes, everyone wants one, but publishers should be wary of creating expensive content which they can’t sell in enough quantities to turn a profit. We’ve all seem some pretty impressive demos of new magazine apps, but people are also already baulking at the cost of the new iPad version of Wired magazine, which seems shockingly expensive at $5.99. There’s a tendency for people to think that not having to pay for the physical paper, the shop, and the distribution should make things cheaper. But that’s just not true if you’ve replaced all that with expensive and whizzy motion graphics.

Attempting to translate the entire contents of a paper magazine to a screen is certainly a lot of trouble and it’s by no means certain the effort would be worth it. However, there are elements within that content that scream out to be delivered differently, either more frequently or in more depth or via a different carrier. I note that Men’s Health is selling workout apps for the iPhone, apparently with some success. There could be many others like that. Magazines have close enough relationships with their readers and detailed enough knowledge of their passions to be able to come up with them. The early indications are that people may pay for them via their phones.

via If the iPad’s the answer, what’s the question again?: InPublishing.

David Hepworth on the the difference between upmarket and downmarket magazines


David Hepworth’s blog is very insightful on media topics, especially relating to magazine publishing. The link below takes you to a short entry about Vanity Fair’s coverage of the Tiger Woods story, making useful comparisons to coverage elsewhere. This is all about institutions (publishers and their advertisers) and audiences. As Hepworth says, almost everybody is interested in smutty stories like this, but your upmarket titles have to be very clever in sneaking it past the advertisers, who are paying a premium to reach the top end of the market (not the “low hanging fruit” as marketeers call it):

And Another Thing: The different between upmarket and downmarket magazines.

Can Apple’s tablet do it again?


This Guardian article starts by imagining a future scene in which you sit down to do… something on Apple’s as yet unknown new device (it will be announced next Wednesday). What the publishing industry is hoping for is an “iPod (and iTunes) for newspapers/magazines/books” which will kick-start electronic book/magazine/newspaper sales (emphasis on sales) and rescue a dying industry.

What I’d hope for is that the old dinosaurs face competition from new, independent publishers, who will be able to make content available for Apple’s device without having to be major media conglomerates owned by News Corp. But that’s just me. I also wouldn’t mind it so much if some of these old newspapers died, but then I tend to bear grudges.

I can also imagine a more dystopian future, in which its illegal to loan books/magazines/newspapers to friends, in which second hand books are contraband; in which we drown under a sea of DRM and EULAs, unable to do the basic things we always could do.

The release of a new device is a dangerous time. I’m as excited as any of the Mac fanboys about the new device (though possibly more excited about a new version of iLife/iWork, which I used every day). At the same time, I hate the idea of restrictions being put on the content we can get for the device, and I hate the idea that in the future there will be no more beautiful, rich, typography and printed photography because of the tyranny of the screen. But perhaps that’s just me.

What is known is that HarperCollins and other publishers have already been negotiating with Apple to make their e-books, magazines and news papers immediately available on the new device. The Apple tablet's reading experience is expected to be much enhanced from the current crop of handheld e-readers such as Amazon's Kindle, which launched in November 2007 and costs about £300. With its monochrome screen, plasticky white buttons and limited web browsing capabilities, you'd never mistake the Kindle for an Apple product, and industry rumours suggest it has sold no more than 1m devices worldwide.

“With big names like HarperCollins and Time magazine weighing in, the Apple iTablet is going to change digital publishing in a way Amazon's Kindle hasn't yet done,” says Peter Moore, director of specialist publishers PSP Rare. “With a touch-enabled colour screen and a similar size format to current magazines, the experience should be almost physical – with the added benefit of live content and links through to websites.”

Shooting War – online comic about TV news, blogging, etc.

Watch out for the salty language, mind

Watch out for the salty language, mind

Via BoingBoing, I learned today that Shooting War has been published in book form, but you can still read the online version (follow the link), which is a great online comic about a video blogger who becomes an embedded reporter/blogger in Iraq. Set in the near future (McCain is president), the story is a cynical exploration of TV news and celebrity reporters.

Also recommended today, some exciting new uses for this thing they call the internet.

1. School of Everything is an attempt to create an eBay-like forum for teachers and potential students – the idea being to connect people who want to learn something (be it ballroom dancing, driving lessons, or a language etc.) with those who are available to teach it.

2. Authonomy from HarperCollins is a new way for a publisher to spot talent. Wannabe writers can upload their fiction; wannabe readers can comment on what they see. Whatever floats to the top, I guess, will get skimmed off and published by Harper. Also brilliant.

3. Wired magazine are experimenting with “An almost-real-time, behind-the-scenes look at the assigning, writing, editing, and designing of a Wired feature.” How useful is that for a Media student?

All these links courtesy of the always-useful BoingBoing.