I got my mitts on an iPad for the first time yesterday, thanks to David at The Guardian.
We worked with them and Canon on the Guardian Eyewitness app (now the SECOND MOST POPULAR free app for the iPad… FTW).
So we were understandably VERY eager to see the fruits of our labours.
(Apple, ‘fruits’? See, it’s a pun, geddit? Oh, never mind…)
Anyway, I took the opportunity to create a little video run through of some of the ‘media’ properties on it, just to get a first feel for what ‘worked’ on the iPad:
So, that was yesterday. My thoughts today?
All in all, whilst newspapers and magazines (and of course comics) can do some wonderful creative things with the iPad, having used it you realise what a great in between step between ‘lean back’ and ‘sit forward’ it is…
…which is perfect for just watching TV on.
Ben Malbon points out that the posters they’ve put up are like a giant user manual… “this is how you use it”.
Looks like a great way to watch content, yet still have access to everything the web offers at the flick of a finger.
And sure, as a device it has the potential to do untold amount of wonderful things, depending on the apps developed for it. And it may revolutionise many markets (news, games, work, healthcare…)
Yet given the amount of ‘watching’ people still do (television, films etc), and the quality and flexibility of the iPad for fulfilling that need, I believe that for mainstream take up it’s the viewing capabilities that will be key.
People LOVE watching TV, as we all know. This represents a different, flexible, personal way to do that, wherever you want. TV has a mass appeal that opens up the interest in the device to a wider audience than would be interested in more early-adopter tech (the iPhone, for instance).
Which means there’s probably an interesting behavioural economics thing going on here too
People will justify spending £500 or so when they compare it not just to the price of netbooks, laptops etc… but to the price of flash flatscreen TVs.
For instance, would you buy a TV for the kitchen when you could buy a stand for an iPad and sit it in the corner when you’re there? Especially if you can download whichever recipe you want on it too.
Which all means that whilst people will be watching as much, if not more, television content in the future, the way in which they are watching it is even more flexible and on demand……whatever, whenever, wherever.
Which has interesting, challenging repercussions for business or marketing models based upon the traditional linear TV watching with ad breaks every 20 minutes… but more on that another day…
What do you think? Is the iPad the future of TV?]]>
On Friday I found myself gathered around the camp-fire that was The Story with a few hundred other folk who love a good yarn, an engaging raconteur, or a twist in the tale…
…it was a “celebration of everything that is wonderful, inspiring and awesome about stories, in whatever medium possible“, curated wonderfully by Matt…
…and was held at the Conway Hall, a building with a pretty interesting story itself.
And, it turned out, I was right; it was a ‘lean forward & lift the sash window in your forehead’ affair for me.
Yet with the help of the excellent Story Newspaper (by Newspaper Club), Rebecca’s fullsome/awesome recap, and a flick back through the twitter stream of #thestory, I’ve pieced together eight things I learned…
…or now believe…
…or remembered I believed already…
…or just liked from the day…
1. Sci-Fi stories tell us what’s possible… and probable
Opening up the day, journalist/author/blogger/bespectacled Canadian Cory Doctorow read us his short story ‘The Story so far… and beyond‘, a tale of the future (the death & life of…) books and stories.
For me, it achieved what great science fiction should; no matter how far the story goes, it’s rooted in something entirely plausible & believable. I’m currently reading his novel Makers too (which Faris sent me after my social production thingy), which pulls the same trick of expertly extrapolating a future from things currently happening in technology.
I’ve talked about Sci-fi before, of course, but in the context of ‘Story’, I think there’s two interesting things that happen in technology because of science-fiction
Firstly, both writers and engineers start in the same place (what HAS happened, and IS currently possible with technology).
But the writer is then free to speculate about the future without being held back by the real world constraints the engineer faces. They’re both heading in similar directions, but it takes the engineer longer to get there…
Secondly, it becomes a bit of a self-fulfilling prophesy…
…the engineers of the future, just by dint of who they are (geeks) what they like (geek stuff) and so on, grow up reading the science-fiction of the present. They get ideas and inspiration of the path to travel from the writers… and so naturally follow that path.
Hence lots of sci-fi prophesies ‘coming true’, and products like the Star Trek inspired style of flip mobile phones appear…
…from the Wikipedia entry for mobile phone inventor Martin Cooper:
2. Television’s stories are getting much deeper
We had the pleasure of seeing Dr Aleks Krotoski’s mash-up telling the story of ‘the making of’ The Virtual Revolution…
…if you’d watched any of the series (which most of the room had, of course), it was a great insight into what went in (or didn’t) to the final linear TV show.
It’s a great example of the depth to which stories on television can potentially go to now… way beyond just red button, or a microsite or the like.
It’s fairly easy to create in-depth, personal, sociable stories from the making of the show, all put together using the same tools and technology that you or I may use everyday (flickr, twitter etc).
For those who’re interested in the subject matter, offering this level of depth behind shows is becoming increasingly more important.
…as an aside… there’s a Virtual Revolution test you can take to see what kind of web animal you are… I’m a web fox it would seem. It’s fun, give it a whirl…
3. Pushing boundaries & expectations helps hook the audience in…
In both cases, the audience sat there simply wondering just what might come next… in storytelling, doing the unexpected is amazingly powerful.
4. Comics rock (in an educational way)
So yes, we all know comics rock anyway… but what occurred when Sydney Padua talked about her comic creation Lovelace & Babbage is the potential for education.
…but just reading a few pages of the stories is teaching me more in a sticky way than endless Wikipedia or lectures would about the same subject.
Comics like this should be on the curriculum. And my mum’s a teacher, so I’ll sort that out then, yeah?
5. Audience participation is all about clapping & chocolate
Russell Davies was an excellent host; genial, funny, generous, and most crucially of all, he knows the power of interaction… especially when it comes to throwing out chocolate treats into the audience (which brought back memories of being at the panto)…
I caught a Kinder Egg, which is why I’m now the proud owner of an ISG (Interplanetary Space Gallivanter)…
6. Some stories stick with us for a long time
Now, Kat Akingbade (co-star of C4’s The Science of Scams) was there talking about how a lot of people tell stories around the occult for quite selfish and nefarious purposes, because the stories resonate with a lot of people in a certain way…
…and the photos she was using to demonstrate this though were a series of the ‘classic’ ghost photos:
…which to be honest I’d forgotten all about, but on seeing them again remembered that as a kid I’d absolutely pored over books like this Usborne one filled with these photos, stories and more…
…which now, thinking about it, is probably where a lot of the inspiration for the Gamages Model Train Club stories I write comes from. I’m not weird; just conditioned…
So, some stories can stay with you and act as a formative force on your life for a long time it seems.
Which is maybe why one of the most powerful forces at play in marketing at the moment is nostalgia; reminding people of something in their past is easier than trying to get them to believe something completely new in the present.
7. I’ve utterly wasted my life (compare to Jody McIntyre)
Sam Coniff from Livity didn’t tell his story, but that of Jody McIntyre – who, after going travelling around South America on his own, scaling Machu Picchu solo, and winning acceptance to Oxford, has now decamped to Palestine to campaign and report on everything that’s happening there.
Oh, and did I say that he’s got cerebral palsy, and his parents were told when he was born that he would never walk, and probably never talk?
8. All the great storytellers need is the suit of clothes they’re standing in…
David was a brilliant mix of entertainer, sage, comedian, co-conspirator, humble, confident… he just stood on a stage for twenty minutes and took the audience with him on the journey.
But something he referred to himself helps the rest of us… he’s been telling and retelling the story, working out the moral, the important bits (and no doubt the bits where he gets a good laugh).
It’s only when we practice telling stories that we get better at telling them.
So there you are, The Story.
The post is rather a long one, I know… so, if there’s a shorthand version, it’s this:
1. Tell stories that inspire others to do great things
2. Build depth into your stories, so people can dive deeper
3. Use your story to push against the expectations of the audience
4. Educate through entertaining stories
5. Get the audience to participate in the telling of the story6. Tell stories that resonate with things from the past
7. Tell the stories of others generously
8. The more you retell your story, the better it’ll be…
The what? The Apple whodjimmy? The iPad? What, you hadn’t heard? Oh, they did some launch thing over in the States on Wednesday…
OK, so you can hardly have missed it, but here’s what I think are the headline points to bear in mind…
…but firstly, a quick overview of the device itself:
It weights 1.5lb (680g or so) so it’s pretty light, it’s half an inch thick, 9.5 inches high, and 7.5 inches wide…
…it comes with either a 16gb, 32gb or 64gb solid state drive, all models connect with Wi-Fi, you can upgrade to 3G (so you can use a phone network, though you don’t need to have a contract, it’s pre-pay)…
…it runs all the existing iPhone apps, there”s a bespoke version of iWork (Apple’s ‘Office’ equivalent) you can buy as apps too…
…and it works just like a big iPod Touch or iPhone, really.
(stats from Mashable)
So, what’s important about it?
1. It’s cheap.
Trust the Scottish fella to focus on that.
Seriously though, of all the things mentioned yesterday, this to me is the thing that makes me think it’ll take off.
At a mere $499 for an entry model iPad, it’s already positioning itself as a device between a smartphone and laptop.
It’s not aiming to replace more expensive laptops, but to do something different in between. And I think that $499 is low enough for people to go and get one ‘just to see’.
Of course, netbook manufacturers, who led the way in producing small cheap machines whose purpose of existing was the access the internet wherever and whenever, are sitting this morning wondering where to go now.
And they’re not the only ones…
2. Apple have made their own chip for it
Now, you may know that every Mac ships with an Intel chip nowadays, and they’ve spent a while shifting all the Mac OS X operating system across to work on the Intel architecture, and as this article points out they’re not likely to want to shift over again any time soon.
Intel doesn’t yet have a proven track record in mobile chips currently (though have just contributed to their first Smartphone, the LG GW990), so Apple needed another option for the launch of the iPad…
However, it’s interesting news that the chip was made in-house, rather than sourcing another supplier. Yet perhaps it’s a move as you’d expect would have been the eventual step for a company who likes to do it all in-house.
Maybe at some point in the long term, they expect to make all of their own chips… which might cause a wee headache to some chip manufacturers…
3. Bye bye e-books
…though not as much of a headache as the e-book boys have right now.
I spoke about this a while back in the ‘Kindle Killer? Why Bother?‘ post…
“Winning the eBook war is a little like becoming the king of the dinosaurs… it may be good for a while, but something big’s coming to make you all extinct…”
Well, here it is.
Mashable’s got a list of 4 reasons why the Kindle’s dead, and 4 reason’s why it’s not that you could read.
But to save you the trouble, the reasons ‘not’ are pretty lame. So the future’s not looking great for the Kindle, but what about the much vaunted thought that…
4. “…it’ll save the newspaper industry!”
Let’s be honest; Apple haven’t exactly made it their mission to save the existing media industries.
Just look at music… it’s not like the iPod & iTunes did anything to preserve the existing model for the music industry; if anything, it hurried the mass population into a new way of behaving that could only hasten the industry’s model decline…
“I can pay much less for music, and only pick the songs I really wanted”.
In that light, can you really see the iPad preserving the income levels that the newspaper industry like to imagine a daily read of their paper is worth?
No, neither can I.
Sure, there will be a subscription model that’ll make a little money. Micropayments too, maybe, through iTunes.
But it won’t be anything near the level that newspaper owners think it should be; people will think…
“I can pay much less for news, and only pick the bits I really wanted”
5. It’ll have a big impact on TV
We like having lots of TVs in our home. Living room, then bedroom, then kitchen… the family could quickly disperse to the different rooms around the house to watch whatever they wanted.
The iPad is reportedly an excellent TV & movie device (it’s HD quality, of course). You can sit with it on your knee wherever you are (at home, on a train, in an airport, in the back seat of a car)…
…so watching content will be great; using a service like the iPhone TV Catchup anywhere you’ve got wi-fi would be a joy, much more so than it is on the iPhone.
But despite the ability to watch live TV like this, I think it’s still bad news for traditional linear TV viewing, and advertising by implication.
People will have another option to watch whatever they want wherever and whenever. It’ll encourage more use of downloading programming, which may have all the pre-rolls and whatever you like, but will not replace the money brought in by the traditional ad-break on TV.
And if content creators think they’ll switch to a revenue stream funded by ‘pay-per-show’, then they better be prepared to sell it cheap; already Apple clearly want to half the price of TV content on iTunes.
Finally, of course, we know that ‘two screen’ viewing is really coming into it’s own of late; sitting on the couch with your smartphone or laptop, with the TV on at the same time.
But if the device you hold is bigger. brighter, better, easier to surf… then less of your attention is going to be pointed at the screen in the corner of the room. The TV may be on, but the advertising will be increasingly ignored.
6. A new era of gaming
The iPhone was a huge success when it came to games. So much so, that it kinda caught Apple by surprise (they’ve never been that good on gaming, let’s be honest).
What was apparent that people really did want to play more intricate, complex games on a touchscreen platform…
…but in such a cramped space such as the iPhone, that made it hard; at times it seemed half the screen was taken up by virtual buttons.
But with a bigger device, you get more ‘game’ screen, and less pressure to squeeze in fiddly virtual buttons. Control gestures can be bigger, more natural.
And of course you’ve still got the accelerometer to control things by tipping and turning the device.
When games developers are set loose on the new SDK (Software Developer Kit) for the iPad, we’ll start seeing some amazing, ground breaking games.
Which brings us nicely to the next point…
7. The apps maketh the device
When the first iPhone launched, sure, there where a few things you could do with it.
But it was only when the thousands of developers populated the iPhone with the 100,000+ apps that everyone’s really been able to make it their own personal, perfect device. And now you can get all the iPhone apps on the iPad.
(BTW – Letting those developers in, whilst maintaining a level of control to keep quality at a decent threshold, was the smartest thing Apple may have done with the iPhone, IMHO)
But now there’s a whole new device to play with.
The gestures are based on hands, not thumbs. The viewing can be for many eyes, not just yours. The holding position is more book & magazine, less phone and iPod.
As Bryce says here, the iPad is about “packaging a new user experience which really comes down to the
software’s gesture interface, the SDK and the underlying hardware that
powers it all.” (HT David Cushman)
It’s not just a ‘big iPhone’; I think that’s just a lazy (if not snarky) observation to make.
When the developers are let loose on it in anger and start releasing proper iPad apps will we understand exactly what it’s capable of…
…and where it’s going to be of most use, like in…
I think there’s terrific opportunities to adopt the iPad (and the new generation of devices it will no doubt spawn from competitors) more in a work scenario.
Which Apple do too, given that they’ve launched special bespoke versions of the ‘iWork’ tools (Keynote, Numbers and Pages) as $9.99 apps for the device.
Now, as John Griffiths points out here it’s really at odds with the Microsoft Office charging model (who every time charge hundreds of dollars to upgrade to the next version of Office).
Though Apple of course want you to buy the new sausage, so give you the sizzle for virtually nothing.
But I was talking to Mike at Made by Many about this, and we agreed there’s huge potential for a device like the iPad to move into healthcare, education as well as traditional business.
It could represent a new way of accessing, creating and sharing information. Of course, you wouldn’t expect to walk into an NHS hospital and see all the Doctors accessing patient information on iPads, but there will be alternatives that are cheap enough to make widespread rollout possible.
The iPad will change the perception of what is possible & desirable from a device in the workplace, creating opportunities for many other manufacturers too.
9. Some folk are pretty disappointed
It’s well known that techy, bloggy types want the moon on a stick. For over six months, speculation has been rife about what the iPad ‘may’ be able to do.
Of course, when it doesn’t arrive, people get all disappointed… and start making (inevitable) Downfall versions of Hitler being told about it…
Sure, there’s no camera, no Flash support (Apple are clearly trying to kill Adobe’s Flash too, just for kicks), no multitasking (so you couldn’t run Spotify at the same time as a Keynote app, for instance)…
…but the overall disgruntlement is, I think, misplaced. Take this for instance…
“I still can’t believe this! All this hype for something so ridiculous! … I want something new! I want them to think differently! Why oh why would they do this?! It’s so wrong! It’s so stupid!”
It’s not a reaction to the iPad this week. But to the original iPod, back in 2001 (via ReadWriteWeb). The first generation iPhone, when announced, faced similar disappointment and derision from within the techworld.
And look how they turned out…
10. The Market and Stephen Fry are impressed
Have a look at the Apple Share price over the last 6 months or so, ever since the rumour machine really started cranking up…
Not bad, huh? The market clearly thinks Apple are onto a winner…
…as does Stephen Fry, who was there, and is in the Guardian today saying…
“There are many issues you could have with the iPad. No multitasking,
still no Adobe Flash. No camera, no GPS. They all fall away the minute
you use it. I cannot emphasise enough this point: “Hold your judgment
until you’ve spent five minutes with it.”
No YouTube film, no promotional video, no keynote address, no list of features can even hint at the extraordinary feeling you get from actually using and interacting with one of these magical objects.”
I can’t wait to try it.So there you have it, the Apple iPad. Personally, I think it’s going to cause big ripples across many markets, and you know what, that’s how I like things. Change is good. The iPad is great. ]]>
Our timing of the Xmas dinner was off this year; we sat down at 5.45pm, precisely fifteen minutes before Doctor Who started.
The second-last-ever episode featuring the tenth Doctor, and we were going to miss it…
But of course, we needn’t have worried… anything you miss on the BBC nowadays you can download or stream from the iPlayer, and watch at your leisure.
As I downloaded ‘The End Of Time – pt I’ (in a surprisingly nippy three hours, given I did it using an Orange mobile broadband dongle in a cottage in the middle of nowhere), I felt that once again, my TV license has repaid itself back six times over this year.
Of course, it was a Christmas special episode of Doctor Who that gave the iPlayer its first really big success, back in 2007. It seems that most technological advances often have a ‘tipping point’, when a large number of people suddenly use the service or product…
…something that I was reminded of when I saw this (via those lovely folks at BBH Labs) about the Amazon Kindle…
On Christmas Day, there were more Kindle books bought on Amazon than there were physical books.
On the face of it, this is huge. There is of course a bit of statistical jiggery-pokery, as no doubt Christmas Day itself is a really slow day for selling physical books on Amazon, and when everyone who gets a Kindle for Christmas opens it the first thing they’ll want to do is download some books for it.
But nonetheless, Christmas 2009 may just be a significant tipping point for not just the Kindle, but for non-physical book sales as a whole… a lot more people are experiencing reading books in a whole new way as I write this.
Perhaps Christmas is always a tipping point for something, especially in this day and age when every year a revolutionary new something floats into the mainstream consciousness, and people start asking for it for Christmas.
I wouldn’t be at all surprised to hear that this Christmas is also going to…
…be the busiest week the Apple App store has ever seen for iPhone downloads
…lead to increased use of photo function on Facebook, as people get yet more cameras to take pictures with, and cheap laptops with which to conveniently upload them with in the living room with Gran.
…prompt more films and TV content downloaded through consoles like the XBox, as families gathering round the box in a post-turkey haze look at the other things these devices can do
I’m quite sure we’ll see quite a few more ‘biggest day EVER’ style statistics coming out in the next few weeks… it’ll be interesting to see whether the ‘Christmas bounce’ is sustainable for everyone who sees one.
Right then, back to Digital Spy to geek out more on Doctor Who speculation… 🙂]]>
Last year, when I was doing the IPA Excellence Diploma, I wrote an essay on the use of real time data to create daily, game-like interactions.
You can read it here, if you’re off the mind to…A Spoonful of EasyJet
Ever since writing it, I’ve been particularly interested in creating work systems that incorporate elements of games.
Because as the principle behind ‘spoonful of sugar’ would have it, if you add an element of fun to a job, the job becomes a game. And we’d all like it a lot more if our jobs were a bit more like games, yeah?
So I was very excited to find out about this forthcoming book…
Using Games and Virtual Worlds to change the Way People Work and Businesses Compete
Of course, I can’t tell you owt about it, as I’ve only just ordered it from Amazon. But the blurb certainly sells it to me…
“Implementing components of multiplayer computer games in the workplace
will address a host of age-old problems. Games can not only stem
boredom and decrease turnover, but also enhance collaboration and
encourage creative leadership. Games require extraordinary teamwork,
elaborate data analysis and strategy, recruitment and retention of top
players, and quick decision making.
Recreating some elements of games – such as positioning tasks within stories, creating internal economies, and implementing participant-driven communication systems – can not only boost employee engagement but overall productivity.”
Sounds really interesting, doesn’t it? I’m very much looking forward to reading it
(thanks to the tip off from the guys at Natron Baxter, an Applied Gaming outfit over there in that there USofA…)
Anyhoo, I think that it appeals so much because, as kids, my brother and I were big fans of ‘God Games’ like Civilisation, Populous et al, and like most blokes my age I’ve lost days to Championship Manager.
If you’re not familiar with the principles of such games, they are based upon an absolute mountain of data… with tens, hundreds or thousands of different characters, units and the like all needing your care and attention on a turn by turn basis.
You’ve got a set objective at the end, of course, but the only way to win the game is to set that big objective aside, and deal with the game on a turn-by-turn basis.
So whilst your overall big strategy is there, it’s actually much more important to continually pay attention to the thousands of smaller tactical decisions.
The big strategy is as simple as ‘win the space race’ or ‘defeat the other competitors’. The methods you use to do that constantly change and evolve depending on the circumstances…
Is it possible to do it for companies? Well, I believe so already… let’s see what interesting examples and ideas the book brings when it arrives next week.]]>
I just saw this on Mashable… Barnes & Noble (US book retailer) are launching a ‘Kindle Killer’… it’s called Nook apparently…
There’s a huge part of me that’s becoming increasingly sceptical about the whole eBook market (especially at the prices people are asking for them). For various reasons…
“It’s like the iPod for books” say some folks. Well, no it’s not. The iPod was different. It replaced other expensive devices (walkman, discman, minidisc etc) that people had to carry to listen to music. A £200 iPod replaced a £110 discman or whatever. That’s a good deal. Paying $279 dollars for a Kindle or Nook where no device existed previously… doesn’t seem like a good deal
Then there’s ‘e-ink’… the ability of the Kindle et al to ‘look like a printed page’. Wow, you’ve spent all that time, energy and money to make something that looks like a static printed paper page. Brilliant, well done. You’ve just given everything on your device the exact same limitations that printed books have…
But the major thing bothering about me is that fact that the tablet is coming…
And not just Apple; Microsoft, Dell, Asus, Toshiba… everyone will make a tablet, like every phone manufacturer is trying to make an “iPhone”…
When tablets become competitively priced, you can pick up an device that let’s you do everything an an eBook lets you do and everything a laptop does to boot (edit documents, surf the web, watch video et etc)…
…then why would you bother buying an eBook?
Winning the eBook war is a little like becoming the king of the dinosaurs… it may be good for a while, but something big’s coming to make you all extinct…
Yes, I’m trying to win a bookcase off Faris. It’s not really a long story, but it’s one that you should go here to read about.
But if that’s ‘the long’, then ‘the short’ is that I needed somewhere to post the following up online. And this is that place.
It’s the entry on ‘book reviews’ in the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. (With a million, million apologies to the late great Douglas Adams, of course).
I originally did this for the IPA Excellence Diploma last year. It is an excellent thing to do, I recommend it. Though it has made me one of those annoying fellows that quotes lots of stuff.]]>
Nice comparison article from Wired here on the seven (yes, seven, where did they all come from?!!?) different competing E-Books that are now available to buy (though not all of them have hit this side of the pond so far).
Glancing through the specs though, not many feature colour screens. The producers seem focussed on making the experience as similar to the look and feel of the printed page as possible.
Which yes, I can see why they’d do that; people are used to it, it’s what probably they ask for in research groups – “can it look like a book please?”. Because that’s what people they expect.
But as Akio Morita (Sony Founder) said about the first Walkman, ‘I don’t think any amount of market research could have told us that our product will be successful’.
If you think about everything that’s possible with a screen nowadays, making it replicate ‘the printed page’ is just a bit lame. Why the hell would I want a £300 device that manages to look like a £5 book?
Come on, E-Book people, impress us a bit more… and excite us.]]>