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Tuesday, 26 January 2010

Comments

This stuff is so weird, I can't wrap my head around it.

Try this thought experiment: What if the "iPad" marketing boys came to you, Mike, and said we'd like to resell your blog to our readers at, say, $1 a pop, and we'll give you 25 cents for each read (or 75 cents, or whatever). They need not even ask you to stop what you're doing, you could continue to publish the way you do now. The "iPad" version would an alternate delivery model. If I were you, I'd go for it, wouldn't you? It's almost found money, isn't it?

But everyone is asking, why would the "iPad" guys do that? How could they hope to make any money?

Beats me, but would anyone have predicted that you could get rich selling ring tones for cell phones. I think that reselling your "free" blog for money makes WAY more sense than buying a special ring tone for a phone. And the whole ring tone thing has now expanded to phone Apps. People pay money for phone software, go figure. All I ever do is talk on one now and then.

My point is this. The world is nuts, so give the "iPad" guys a call. What's to lose?

Michael, I would say that an itablet has everything to do with photography because it will give photographers a highly portable media that provides a mass market outlet for multi-media projects. The goal will be to figure out how to make new creative projects profitable on a new media. I think we're going to see a lot of advertising driven new media hit in the next 12 months.

I think the photo book will translate almost immediately to the new format. It has most of what I want for the kind of books I do: Good color screen and enough square inches to have good, readable type. The paper goes away as does the proofing steps for the color, the shipping and the antiquated distribution models. The price drops without affecting the profit. The reader wins, the writer wins, the new distribution model flattens out the five or six major distributors who have a lock on bookstores and it eliminates the need for a traditional publisher because there isn't a big investment in the physical construction and printing costs.

We may not like this transition for hundreds of reasons but it's probably as inevitable as the web was.

Could this also have implications for the sale of photo books/magazines, if the iWhatever were a convenient platform for viewing pictures? If traditional books to "read" began selling via an Apple "iRead" store (aka iTunes), would coffee-table photography books be a sensible genre to sell?

It might be similar to "selling" a slideshow, since the readier would view the photos with projected- rather than reflected-light? These could be viewed on a non-slate machine, of course, but the slate might feel more comfortable and bookish.

Gee, everyone who wants their book collection locked into a proprietary format controlled by some megalomaniac, raise their hand.

I'll stick with a newspaper. It's easier to take on the bus, you don't have to worry (much) about being robbed of it, and you don't have to send it back to have a new batt installed every year. (Apple never seems to miss an opportunity for an after-market revenue stream.)

If the Apple tablet manages to have functionality anything like my Viliv S5, combined with popularity and ease of use, it's going to be a fairly big deal for photographers. Anybody who wants to do remote shooting or wireless transfer is going to be thrilled.

What Apple has done with the iPhone application store (and the iTunes Store) is demonstrate that micropayments are viable. Yes there is a lot of free stuff, but 99c is still 99c.

They also bring to the table a business plan, a shed load of committed developers (important to attract users), a supremely integrated platform, a very carefully managed product cycle, worldwide hardware distribution, worldwide marketing and (nowadays) an enviable reputation for delivering workable desirable devices (compare the iPod and iPhone with BlackBerry, Windows Mobile, Symbian and Android for media generation & playback).

The Tablet will be much more than the sum of it's somewhat ordinary parts. Yes Apple want to be the gateway, and that will concern a lot of people, but look at what has happened with podcasting. A whole new media format, (that pre-existed iPods), but grown beyond all expectations at a grass roots level - and wholeheartedly embraced by iTunes. Apple wants to own the pipe, and they will make sure there is attractive content in that pipe that comes from somewhere else.

The customer for the Tablet is not your or I, it is big media, who are desperate for a way to find income. Newspapers are dying, due to the loss of classified advertising income to various websites. They need a way to monetize their product, and are struggling to find a way for people to pay for a non-physical product. Apple has a well tested mechanism for this with the iTunes Store, and provides the capability for iPhone applications to support in app purchases. You download the New York Times application, and then within that pay for a news subscription. Buying is as easy as typing in your store password. No entering credit card details, no incorrect email addresses, no lost invoices. You get the product, Apple handles the payment, and the publisher gets eyeballs (for their own advertisers) and paid subscriber.

Last year Rupert Murdoch said he wants people to pay, which is fair enough, but not the point. Why would he say that unless there was a way for it to happen?

The recording industry grew fat and lazy on format changes - "got an LP collection? Buy it all again on CD! Got a CD collection? Buy SACD!" As manufacturers, publishers and distributers, they have been woeful in tending their market while technology changed the landscape. They killed singles, so there was no need to go to the store regularly, so people stopped visiting their product retailers and buying albums just when it became viable to download. As for RIAA, who are an industry body, just take a look at what the Artist associations say. If going digital made copying so easy that our iPods are already full of everything we want, why do we still listen to radio? (Think about 'editorial')

Apple's success with the iTunes store happened _despite_ the efforts of the music industry. In other words, Apple saw money on the table the industry was resolutely determined to leave there.

Print media can't afford to leave 99c on the table, and can't afford not to pay the 30c it will cost to get the other 69c.

In regard to your point about print feeling competition from the web, if there was a print magazine on photography that provided the range and quality of content found on TOP I think it could compete. The problem with a lot of print media, and this is certainly true in the case of consumer photo magazines, is low quality content. I don't think changing the means of delivery will change that.

"slated" you say. I hear rumors that "slated" is in the running for word of the year along with "isolated". Say it out loud.


You are absolutely correct, Mike. Apple may, very subtly (not!), be attempting to wrest all forms of digital presentation into its "ixxx" platform. GQ magazine recently announced that more than 6,000 "copies" of its iPod app for the magazine have been downloaded, at $2.99 a pop, which would give more fuel to the fire for Apple's new "iPad," perhaps a communication device for everyone for everything. Whew! Think of the possibilities.

Even though, as you indicate, this may not be directly linked to photography, the implications are definitely far reaching.

From the outside in, it would seem the book/magazine/newspaper publishers are even more out of touch than the RIAA or MPAA with respect to modernization of their distribution model. It seems peculiar given the overwhelming mass of content available, that the publishers wouldn't be interested in better monetizing their IP without the upfront investment necessary to rework the distribution channel. It's almost a chicken and egg problem. How do you transition the distribution model away from print, if there isn't a suitable means for the consumer to access the content? Apple addresses the distribution and access, while the publisher maintains rights and enables a new (expanded) revenue stream.

"The music industry isn't in a state of unalloyed joy over the rise of the iTunes model."

In my opinion, the music industry had it's head in the sand and still does to a great extent. They are the ones that pushed DRM as a savior, but all it did was:

1) Punish people that decided to BUY music, by limiting what they could do with the music they "owned".

2) Lock people into a music service, because they didn't really own the music. The music service had the keys, and users are forced to ask for them on a regular basis like a teen asking to take the car or a drive.

So, they then they realize that locking their customers into another companies DRM product gave away all of their power, they removed the DRM from the product in hopes of reducing the iTunes effect ....

Then they raised the prices.

If your main competition is free, raising the price is ... well ... you get the point.

The same issues face the print media, with Craigs List and Blogs being not only free, but legal options for readers. Downward pressure on prices, profit, and readership will either drive them out of business entirely, or to a sustainable business model far different from the current one.

It is clear to most that charging for content is the best way, it would do them well to look closely at what is working, and what is not.

iTunes is clearly working, despite the best efforts of the music industry to make it fail.

Website pay walls have not worked so far.

Kindle and the other readers are a step in the right direction ... but so far content providers are making the same mistakes the music industry did. Lord help us if Amazon, or iTunes, became the sole arbiter of what books magazines and newspapers we had access to.

The best way to compete with free is, make great content, make it easy to get in any form that is convenient for customers, and price it right.

The times are indeed changing.

If true, a little sad, but also hopeful if it means the survival of publications that would otherwise go under, or perhaps never get started. I hope it will be more accessible to publishers than the App Store or iTunes. In general, I think making distribution more democratic and more accessible to producers is a good thing, and I hope this will be something that is overall more in that direction than the reverse.

Hard copy, especially paper, is wonderful and useful, and I am sure it will survive, just not as a mass medium (at least not in the "industrialized" world). I feel and I hope it will endure as a product and as a personal or bespoke medium--an alternative reading/viewing method, as the preferred medium for art, books, etc.; but its days as a primary means of distributing topical content are at an end.

The iThing may well be a viable means of delivering content to subscribers and ought to be a good thing for the magazine and newspaper media who can hop on board and use it alongside or perhaps replace their print versions. However, what worries me, as a professional photographer at least, is the proposed iTunes format to gather and distribute photography.
Microstock photography may be all well and fine for the generic, everyone-is-happy, eyecandy blahness typical of the form that we see from Flickr to Getty, but it could be the death knell for committed photographers who need an income stream to generate the specific stories with the breadth and depth that give meaning to an audience hungry for it, but unwilling and/or unable to pay for it.
In my corner of the world, 90% of the local magazine industry use stock photography and supplied photographs. They don't commission photography at all. The few who do, (thank you, thank you, thank you) have considerably straitened budgets.
And the same but more so with many businesses missing the opportunity to tell their own stories and instead they bang up a few generic stock images on their website and think that's going to make all the difference.
I could go on…
Adrian
www.malloch.co.nz

David Weiss has a PDF score card for the Apple event that serves as a nice summary of the major rumours to date.

Yet another device to carry on, feed, recycle and take care of? Being green usually means spending less.

No, thank you.

I'm convinced that electronic publications resembling/replacing printed books are about to take off. The transition may well be very similar to digital music and will be driven by the same community of users. It remains to be seen whether Apple will be as big in digital print media as they are in digital music but it is their market to lose.

College kids are about to be offered devices that can hold all the textbooks they will ever need, all the digital music they will ever want, with instant delivery of new content anywhere there is a cell connection. Add in wireless collaboration and a dash of web surfing and you have instant paradigm shift. Moving from a twenty pound backpack of books to an eight ounce smart device is an obvious benefit.

This shift will affect all types of publications including photo related books and periodicals.The entire print production and distribution chain will be changed.

Bah Humbug! (sorry Mike I know you're an Apple man).
OK, they'll die off eventually, but let's not lose sight of the fact that there's a whole generation out there who don't actually know what an i-Anything is or does, don't see what the difference is between a CD and a DVD, have no idea what a podcast might be or how to use it etc. etc. That generation has money and is still a viable market but is given little temptation to buy these days as the world rushes into new "improved" technology.
Only Apple product I'm likely to own is the free Quicktime player (yes you can still download it without i-Tunes) but then I've been digging my heels in for a long time - never had or wanted a Walkman and avoided every Sony product until a Minolta camera came along with a Sony badge.
Again sorry for the moan but I'm just getting sick of the free Apple advertising that springs up everywhere on the internet.

Cheers, Robin

The December issue of the Digital Journalist (http://www.digitaljournalist.org/) has an interesting commentary by Dirck Halstead on the future of photojournalism and includes a link to a demonstration of what we might expect from tablets regarding magazines (‘Just Keep Flying’).

The link to the demo is :
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ntyXvLnxyXk

To get a glimpse of just one of the possibilities Apple's tablet will usher in for print media, one has only to check out this Sports Illustrated demo.

As you can see, it could greatly cater to both photo and video journalists and their work, not only in these big name publications, but also think of the grassroots start-ups, smaller publications, niche focused rags, who, if they are savvy and on top with this technology and future, could quickly grow a base and audience that will draw the readers/viewers from the once big major publications and mainstays, that they, prior to, could never compete with, because of their size, and big hold on the market share, in their past-tense becoming print world model... especially if those said larger powerhouses are slow to adapt and embrace this match to powder like thing that it could be.

Photographers and videographers, as well as those with their head in the game enough to be able to pool that talent and team with them to create a similar format for whatever content that they want to focus and specialize in, utilizing this budding format and medium to introduce themselves and their content to the world. Much as personal websites and blogs are now. I foresee something akin to a blogs 2.0 kind of thing, podcasts on steroids, with more viewer interactiveness, and visual media entities/individuals/artists being able to creatively expand how it is they present the news, world, their work, and how we all will in the future receive such content.

Like it or not, this new bit of technology is going to turn the world upside down. Print media is going to get a swift kick to the groin area and news media in general is going to have to adapt to it or die off as well.
People will buy this thing and so will a gazillion photographers because in a very short time, if not at the launch, you will be able to dump your images straight from the camera to the tablet, then upload them immediately to your email or any website.
As of now, we cannot even perceive some of the things the tablet will do for us.

"...you will be able to dump your images straight from the camera to the tablet, then upload them immediately to your email or any website."

Maybe I am missing something, but I do that with my laptop.

Wow. Suddenly the whole world has immediate access to wireless internet ? Don't think so.I'm still not convinced I want to read a magasine on a computer. (Come to that I read very few magasines any more) What would really kill it for me would be forced advertisments where one has to sit through an ad to get to the content.
Apart from all of that I think I have what I would call computer time, reading time, hobby time etc. I sometimes feel I spend far too much time peering at a screen as things are.

This announcements ignites many interesting debates on many fundamental issues.
The one I'm musing about is a not-so-new question: what medium should be considered as the specific medium for photography nowadays?
The new Apple device, provided that it is enough cleverly designed, will add to a list already including framed prints on a wall, paper books (either self or traditionally published), paper magazines, slideshows on DVD and, of course, the web.
Things are becoming more and more complicated...

"what medium should be considered as the specific medium for photography nowadays?"

Don't forget "a piece of paper," which is still my preferred medium for a photograph.

Mike

Stephen Gilette writes:

[snip]The Amazon Kindle (which has been successful, maybe even wildly so) may be great for reading Harry Potter[/snip]

Bad example: The Harry Potter books have never (legally) appeared as ebooks, due to the author's fears of piracy.

Not really relevant to the discussion, but funny nonetheless :-)

Bernard

I guess in a few hours after i am typing this, we will have more information about Apple's "tablet" product. Nevertheless :)

I an a subscriber to both the print and extended versions of Lenswork. Viewing the Extended content (on DVD) is pretty sweet, and displays very nice, on my screens. Assuming processor and screen are adequate, images may display very nicely.

The kindle is very attractive to me, exspecially the subscriptions. Auto loading the NYT's every a.m. would be nice. But i do not want to get another device that is a one trick pony, i.e., only an ebook reader.

The tablets at CES this year, and the "smartbooks" both seem to bundle together web "app" sites and functions, and may not allow unguided, open "surfing" around the web, as we used to say.
For me, such a device would have to allow via wifi open access to the web, not just through the maker's "partners".

The tablet is not really a new concept. They were laying all over the place on tables and desks, hooked into "the cloud", on the tv shows Star Trek Next Generation and Deep Space 9. :).

7 Years ago I wondered why there werent electric kiosks to sell the magazines for down load to portable memory as every traveler had a laptop. Longer than that I wondered why the computer makers werent competing with home entertainment audio component makers. Well the tablet will allow magazines to be viewed as they are now ads photos the thing that makes them more desireable than newspapers. The main reason I think the tablet really will fly is education. Why should kids lug around a 30lb pack full of texts. College students buy 3-500 dollars of books each semester. Cut that to $100 dollars and the tablet makes sense. How many new books are sold of all college book sale 20%? I think if books are electronic and productivity is improved from an educational point the the tablet will be a home run. Entertainment will be recess. A much enjoyed perc.

Jason: "Apple wants to own the pipe"

That's the core and cornerstone of civilisation, what it's all built upon: control distribution. And Apple is pretty good at it.

I've waited until after the actual announcement of the iPad, and I have to say that it's an impressive little device.

It's worth noting that the apple website is showing two camera- related accessories from day one (or day minus 30 since it's not actually for sale yet) one is an SD card adapter and the other designed to download via cable. They clearly see that photographers are part of their market, and that's a good thing.

And in the raw speculation department, I'd love to see this thing as part of a digital 'view camera' system with just a sensor and lensmount and a holder for the iPad mounted on a tripod - not a tethered camera, but all of the control and viewing on the pad.

Dear Folks,

Not a device I'm personally interested in, but the display they've built into it also argues that they're taking photography seriously. This is the first laptop-scale machine with an Apple Cinema Display quality screen it. That is actually a pretty big deal.

Anyone want to start a pool on how long it will be before there's an app that lets you run a proper monitor calibration on it?

Now, if it would only run Photoshop...

Be that as it may, it gives me some small hope that the time of a laptop with a really good screen may not be too far off. I've been waiting and waiting and waiting.


~ pax \ Ctein
[ Please excuse any word-salad. MacSpeech in training! ]
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-- Ctein's Online Gallery http://ctein.com 
-- Digital Restorations http://photo-repair.com 
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How is Apple taking photographers seriously by forcing you to buy clunky dongles to replicate basic functionality? It's the complete opposite, every part of the iPad is specifically designed to foster a locked-in ecosystem. Not a place I want to go.

Dear Rynn,

I think you're in the wrong place. The "Apple vs PC vs Unix vs Linux Religious Wars" website is one floor down, third door in. You can't miss it. Listen for the sound of breaking, well, everything.

pax / Ctein

Dear Ctein,

Pointing out flaws in a device is not a religious war, since the only person who mentioned anything other than the company that manufactured the gadget is you.

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