Friday, December 10, 2010

iPad and Traditional Media

There was a small headline that I read this morning that opened my eyes wide. Netflix has entered the S&P 500. That was surprising but not shocking. The shocking part was that Netflix replaced the New York Times on the S&P 500. This day might be remembered as a milestone of the digital age.

But what does this really say about current times? It means that while content is king, people are not willing to spend as much money on news and opinions as they are willing to spend to ensure they can watch season 1 of "Parks and Recreation" on their PS3. Twitter, Facebook and Google have all but replaced newspapers as the sources where people learn about the world.

So what is the role of the iPad in today's news? The iPad is the ultimate consumption device. It launched with Netflix being the killer application for it. Traditional media thought the iPad and devices similar to it would be the savior of old media. Instead, users have embraced the openness of such devices and have almost turned their back on newspapers. Why would a person limit their exposure to a subject based on one reporter's interpretation of events? Simply opening the Twitter application for iPad and doing a hash tag search would expose you to first hand thoughts, photos and videos. Who better to fill you in on an event than a person living it and not just reporting it?

The hardware of the iPad in and of itself is not mind blowing. What has caused the iPad to succeed so well is the idea of simplicity. The iPad is the first device that anybody can use with only a few minutes of exposure. I hand it to my 20-month old daughter and she knows that a swipe will bring the next page of apps. It's the ultimate common sense device.

Nobody cares about the processing power of the iPad. It just works. That is going to be the downfall of traditional media. People want to spend time consuming media and not worrying about how they are going to do it. In the same time it takes an apartment dweller like me to grab the New York Times from outside the front door (if no one has stolen it!), I could have checked my Twitter feed, checked my Facebook wall, checked my Google Reader and read the NY Times on my iPad.

While I appreciate the content the New York Times produces, if The Huffington Post is the future of journalism, I'm okay with that. Their iPad app is pretty good.