The iPad is a content strategy

As a geek and a journalist who often covers technology, I pay attention to the gigabytes and gigahertz that most people don’t. To be honest, in the era of giga-computing, the average user can’t really tell the different between a dual-core computer running at 2.3Ghz or 3.2Ghz. It does whatever they need it to.

The tech spec arguments have now moved on to netbooks and mobile phones, devices where a beefier processor can mean the difference between a smooth experience and a jerky, frustrating one. The spec counters have come out in force to denounce the Apple iPad: A 1Ghz chip sounds pretty weak. No USB. No expansion slot. 3G as an option.

As they do so often, spec counters and feature fanatics miss the point. There are phones on the market that do more than the iPhone but few do those things so well. When you’ve got a device that doesn’t have the almost limitless power of today’s desktop computers, you have to make choices.

However, with the iPad, that’s actually beside the point. The iPad is first and foremost a consumer electronics device. Do you worry about the processor in your cable box? No. The set-top box is merely an electronic gateway to content, and that’s what Apple is hoping to create with the iPad.

Yes, there are other media slates out there. Just look at the nearly dozen slates that NVidia was plugging at CES. HP will release a tablet later this year, and Amazon is going to beef up the Kindle. However, none of those devices has iBooks or the apps, games, music, movies and television available from the iTunes store. No other device offers this kind of content. I’ll agree with Joshua Benton at the Nieman Lab that the iPad is focused on ‘reinventing content, not tablets‘. iTunes and its effortless integration with the iPod helped differentiate it from the crowded market of MP3 players, and the content is what Apple is hoping will ensure the success of a new type of device, the iPad.

Consumers still have to render their verdict on the iPad, but the stakes for Apple aren’t just about the success of a single device but really about a much broader digital media strategy.

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9 thoughts on “The iPad is a content strategy

  1. The iPad is *not* a content strategy.

    It is a delivery system, a platform, for content. In fact, it is another extension of the closed Apple content ecosystem. But, I’m not going to discuss those issues right now.

    Regarding actual content strategy, it’s another format to consider when analyzing a client’s information and considering the best delivery systems for that information.

    As the iPad runs the same apps as the iPhone and iTouch, a Content Strategist will consider if it is worthwhile for a client to create an application for those platforms.

    It is in considering the above that determines whether or not the iPad/Phone/Touch will become a part of the content strategy for a client’s information.

  2. What are you doing ? Some SEO strategy ? Take 2 popular keywords or strings (“iPad” & “content strategy”), then write an article about it ? It would have been more interesting (and relevant) to see how those devices will have to be integrated in our content strategy projets, sooner or later ; and how these devices will impact the users’ behaviors regardings the contents.

  3. Rebecca, you can’t separate out content from delivery mechanism because the latter informs the former. I wonder if you even read the post.

    The iPad will live or die because of the content one can access through it, not because of the technical spec – that’s why it’s a content strategy not a tech strategy. It is not, after all, a laptop or even a netback replacement. The way that the iPad slots in to Apple’s content ecosystem, i.e. how easy it is to populate it with applications and content from the iTunes Music Store and the upcoming iBooks shop, means that people will view the device through the lense of the content they can access on it. The portability of applications/content between the iPhone/iPod Touch, the iPad and one’s laptop/desktop is unmatched by any other suite of devices – that is Apple’s master stroke.

    You appear to be a content strategist, but seem cross about having to broaden your strategy to include new platforms. The iPad will be a huge opportunity for some content producers, but will be irrelevant for others. Surely it’s your job to understand how a new device fits into the ecosystem, and to understand when it’s relevant to your clients?

    It’s obvious that a lot of businesses are already interested in having content on the iPad. Maybe the question you should be asking is not whether the iPad will become part of your clients’ content strategy, but why would it not?

    Vandermeulen, again, I wonder if you actually read the post. I’m also perplexed as to why you think it’s someone else’s job to tell you how to integrate the iPad into your client’s content strategies, and why you particularly expect Kevin to do it.

    Kevin’s post is about how Apple’s design strategy for the iPad was content-focused rather than tech-focused. And whilst I think it would be interesting to examine the content strategies of third parties as they relate to the iPad, this post was never meant to be that.

  4. Rebecca, the title of the post should be read in context of the content, which is often helpful in interpreting meaning of content, he says to the content strategist.

    Vandermuelen, I’m really sorry that the post I wrote didn’t anticipate your needs and your interests. In a recent job review, my manager said that my lack of psychic abilities was hindering my professional development.

    Seriously, though, you both appear to be content strategists a bit peeved because my post didn’t actually discuss the iPad from the standpoint of developing a content strategy for your clients. Your criticism would be valid if that was what the post was about. Apologies for the snark, but I’m rather unwilling to accept rather impolite criticism of my post simply on the basis that it’s not about content strategy from the end of the telescope where you sit.

    I didn’t say that the iPad is the sum total of a cohesive and effective content, which I don’t believe. However, Rebecca as you say, the iPad needs to be understood in terms of the Apple eco-system. I suppose your rather visceral reaction to the title of the post (as opposed to the content of it) is that you interpreted it as saying that your services are no longer required because all you need to do is use the iPad.

    Vandermuellen, you ask how the iPad will affect user behaviour. The iPhone and iPod Touch already have. Touch and gestural interfaces open up new possibilities and challenges for content companies. People seem willing to pay small fees for applications that can provide new revenue streams to support content creation. The real questions in terms of content development are Apple’s choice of HTML5 and H.264 over the de facto standard Flash. Yes, these latter questions are technical, but from a content strategy position, they are relevant and important to understand.

    The title “The iPad is a content strategy” is written from Apple’s standpoint. It looked at design and feature choices that Apple made in designing the device. It was looking at the strategy from Apple’s point, not from content creators standpoint. However, Apple’s strategic thinking in developing the iPad is relevant to content companies. Steve Jobs is creating an eco-system in an attempt to establish Apple as a key digital middle man across digital content. Whether companies want to have derive sufficient benefit from becoming part of that eco-system will have to be determined by individual companies. Will the iTunes, iPhone, iPod, iPad eco-system deliver enought value to content companies for them to cede a bit (or a lot) of control to Steve Jobs? What new content creation options and revenue generating mechanisms does the iPad deliver to content companies? These are interesting questions which I’m exploring at my day job. Good luck with yours.

  5. I don’t know if I agree with you completely, but I’m leaning in that direction.

    My problem is that I am the geek that what’s to know what’s inside, and use it the way I want, not the way Apple things I should.

    For me, the iPad will be about entertainment and will be another (potentially suboptimal) way to consume my media streams, not something I can really be productive with.

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