The media has been making a huge deal about how the iPad is supposed to “save the business,” because suddenly everything will return to apps, and people pay for apps, and toss in a big dose of “Steve Jobs!” and there’s some sort of magic formula which includes some question marks and inevitably ends in profit! Now, the iPad does look like a nice device, and I have no doubt that it will do quite well for Apple, and many buyers will be quite happy with it. But it’s not going to save the media business in any way, shape or form. It’s just the media chasing a rainbow in search of gold that doesn’t exist.
A few months back, I tried to ask a simple question that we still haven’t received a good answer to: all of these media companies, thinking that iPad apps are somehow revolutionary, don’t explain why they never put that same functionality online. They could. But didn’t. There’s nothing special about the iPad that enables functionality you couldn’t do elsewhere. But, it goes deeper than that. People are being taken down by app madness. Because the iPhone has sold a bunch of apps, suddenly old school media players are suddenly dreaming of the sorts of control they used to have, and pretending it can be replicated on the iPad. But that’s a big myth.
Danny O’Brien has a brilliant post on the similarities between the iPad and the CD-ROM. The CD-Rom was supposed to save old media (as the iPad is supposed to now) — but tried to do so mainly by trying to make the old format move to a digital world, by retaining the control, and by adding a little digital razzle dazzle. But what it failed to do was really enable what the technology allowed — and that was because what the technology allowed totally undercut the old business model.
The media is running to the iPad because they think it’s magically going to transport them back to a world where there is scarcity and they can charge ridiculous prices again.