Every so often, a technology comes along that redefines competition within markets:

  • Email redefined the way people communicate, and in doing so, undermined the letter delivery service forever.
  • Phones are in competition with coffee shops.
  • Skype is in competition with domestic airlines.

Now, with the iPad, Apple’s “magical and revolutionary product“, Apple is in competition with TV broadcasters, newsagents and printers as a source of media. Print media organisations aren’t dead – their distribution model is. TV stations aren’t dead – if they produce content – but they are if they simply broadcast it. The iPad represents an opportunity for people to access professional content from anywhere in the world from anywhere. Video, audio, photos, music, games and books.

Where individual songwriters can record and release a song for $1.99 through iTunes, where individual developers and content creators can release individual iPhone Apps for sale, now content creators can release books and other written content through a secure payment and distribution system. Apple’s new iBookStore will erode the print publishing distribution model in the same way digital recording from a laptop , iTunes and peer-to-peer file sharing has eroded the record company business model. It will open up opportunities for organisations and individuals to create and release content of all types.

In 2004, Apple CEO Steve Jobs said that you can listen to music in the background, while movies require that you actually watch them, and that the size of the iPod is not conducive to high quality viewing. With the iPad, Apple has created an almost perfect video (and gaming) device. I believe we will see further opportunities including:

  • Channel iPad: Live content streaming of TV shows, direct from producers – either bypassing or augmenting traditional TV viewing
  • Vote now: Realtime interaction with mass media events and live TV shows – eg: voting
  • Get used to seeing them on people’s laps at the footy / cricket: Sports teams providing rich in-game experiences and interaction via wireless networks in-stadium straight to iPad

Other random thoughts:
It will change the way in which we design websites, as fingers become the navigation tool rather than the mouse. This has happened on the iPhone, there’s no reason why we won’t see a similar shift with the iPad.

Video will be even more important in the communications mix – iPhone / iPad Apps will use more in-app video, and moreso considering YouTube is integrated into the device.

As people will now have a large keyboard on glass (silent typing versus a physical keyboard with buttons), we will see iPads:

  • Becoming more popular than laptops in Uni lecture theatres
  • Being used as a silent replacement for normal notepads in meetings, interviews and presentations
  • Being used as a big screen, synchronised (via Wi-Fi and 3G) version of our everyday notepad

We also see the iPad in the following roles:

  • Being used as a display / interactive device at retail – instantly synchronised, providing personalised product information for each customer.
  • Being used as the ultimate device for sales reps – giving them a big screen for videos, presentations, sales charts, images and the synchronisation and connectivity for productivity on the road.
  • The ultimate “Doctor’s friend”, in the form of a one size fits all repository for scans, images, medical history and in-patient records.
  • Apple’s massive repository of education content on iTunes U will find a logical home – the iPad is the ultimate education tool – relatively inexpensive and simple (restricted) enough that anyone can use it as a learning tool.
  • It will be a hit with the world’s ageing population. Larger screen means larger type which means less strain on eyes. A great platform to build solutions and content for the older generation.
  • The ultimate cookbook for home chefs.
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