I’m going to take one seemingly independent observation, then another, and then make an obvious one of my own (I call it iSynthesis).
Apple is likely to announce the launch of a new tablet-based Mac, probably called (if you are to believe the hype) either the iPad or the iTablet. No real news there – you knew this already. But the thought preoccupying everyone is: no one knows what we’re meant to be doing with it. Charles Arthur in The Guardian echoes the sentiment:
Here’s a story from the near future. It’s been a long day. Finally throwing aside the cares of work, you slump down on your sofa and pick up that shiny new device you bought the other day. […] it’s Apple’s stylish new iPad (iTablet? iSlate?) – a smooth 10in screen with no keyboard, like an iPhone on steroids. You pick it up, turn it on with one swipe of a finger, and begin to . . .
At this point, the picture goes hazy and freezes. The reason: […] still no one is certain what the hell their creation is actually going to be for…
There, that’s the first of the observations. Many people will want one, many will buy one, but if we’re going to justify the price – thought to be around £1000 – we better know how we’re going to use it.
Now for the second, seemingly unrelated observation. In another section of The Guardian, (the wonderfully-named) Mercedes Bunz tells us how iTunes might save the publishing world through simplifying the ‘micropayments’ approach for buying newspaper content:
Payment has to be simple and elegant. Click and run, and don’t think about it. Apple can offer that: there are more than 100 million iTunes accounts with credit cards already. If the transactions are batched so that the fixed cost is amortised across multiple articles, iTunes can offer readers a simple and elegant way to pay, and readers like that.
Now, for the third and final observation, my own. No doubt you’ve already guessed it: what we’re going to do on the iTablet is subscribe and purchase electronically-published content through iTunes.
The signs are there: The New York Times is considering switching to a micro-payment system; I understand from Bunz’s article that various publishers have been in talks with Apple about distributing their content; some newspapers are already using alternative methods of creating revenue through such approaches as the aforementioned The Guardian‘s iPhone app.
I’m not the first to put two-and-two together and I won’t be the last. iTunes might be the future, whether you like it or not, of some types of publishing.