With announcements from Samsung and Toshiba at the IFA consumer electronics show in Berlin last week, it looks like the big boys are gearing up to go after a share of the tablet market initiated by Apple’s iPad. It’s anyone’s guess whether they can compete with Apple, which already has an “installed” user base of over 3 million with the iPad. Early signs are that competition will centre on smaller sizes, lower prices and on the things missing from the iPad: Cameras and Flash, for example.
Why should magazine people care what’s going on in the consumer tech market? As long as digital magazines are tied to the desktop, usage will be limited. Tablets make digital magazines portable again – the one huge benefit of print that digital media has struggled with. The more tablet devices out there, the easier it will be for people to read digital magazines like they read print magazines, on the sofa, on the train, anywhere they want.
We can maybe imagine a world where everyone has an iPad. It might even be quite nice: Universal publishing standards could be set, we would all know where we stood. But the reality is that not everyone will buy an iPad, Apple doesn’t have all the answers and competition can only be good for this market. After some false starts, we might finally be seeing the development of a sustainable Tablet computer market, but we are only at the beginning. The more big players that get involved, the more choice consumers will have and the more likely users are to adopt these devices.
Just to be clear – by users I mean your readers, and by devices, I mean platforms for your digital magazines.