10 important things about the Apple iPad

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…

8. Work

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.


Social Production… my 'big idea'

I was invited to take part in yesterday’s APG/Campaign Battle of Big Thinking (yes, an honour to be asked, thanks guys), and managed to carry the public vote in the innovation section…

I talked about Social Production… I’ve put it together as a slidecast here, I’d love to know what you think.

Just click the green ‘play’ button at the bottom to hear the voiceover… 

…it’s not the original audio, I quickly rerecorded a track this morning, hence it being longer than the allocated 15 minutes…


Spotify, Lady Gaga, and the maths that don't stack up

The musician’s lot is not a happy one.  We know this, we’ve seen plenty of evidence, but here’s another piece (via Dan) that just might give a sense of just how futile the act of making money from music is becoming…

Over on TorrentFreak (a blog covering all things around bittorrent technology), there’s a report on how much money Lady Gaga made from Spotify for a million plays of her songs…



How much do you think?  Go on, guess.  A MILLION plays.

How about $167?

Or, if you prefer, 0.017 cents per play, or to bring it back to real money, 0.01p per play.

Now, you maybe don’t know if that’s a lot or a little, compared to what musicians may be used to receiving for plays of their songs.

Well, not so long ago in 2003, if a song of yours was played on Radio 1, you’d receive a massive £18.44.  PER MINUTE (though of course the amount was less if you were on regional or local stations).

But still, one 3 minute play of a Lady Gaga song would make her £55.32

Or indeed a THIRD of the totally amount of money she’s receiving for a million plays on Spotify.

Much as I love Spotify, I really can’t see how it’s going to continue if the people who’re making the content for it only receive such paltry rewards for their efforts.  It’s barely better than piracy…



So, the ever-on-the-pulse Dave Stone points me in the direction of this on Music Ally… a rebuttal, of a kind…

“Firstly, any payment to STIM would only represent a fraction of the payments rights holders receive and only for music played in one country (in this case Sweden) as we pay not only collecting societies, but also publishers and the record company to play their music,” says a spokesperson.

“Secondly, the figure (unrepresentative as it is) is from a short period just after our launch last year, way before we’d established ourselves as a music service and built up a large user base. Specific payments are of course confidential, but this is certainly wide of the mark.”

There’s obviously more to this than meets the eye.  Yet until someone clarifies how ‘wide of the mark’ it is, we’ll never know whether artists are getting a good deal or not.  I wonder if anyone will come out with some real figures..?



So, Mat has found this… from Steve Lawson’s blog, who’s also done some quick maths on this, but using some sources suggestion that the real figures are ten times this (as the $167 is just a royalty payment… there are other things to include). 

So maybe the decimal point needs to come forward a place… 0.1p per play.

And it points out that’s she’s also had 20 million paid downloads…

…but that this is a TOTAL figure across every platform, not attributable to Spotify, but rather to the promotional effort as a whole.  She’s not done badly, either way.

My point on the whole affair remains this though; compared to what they used to receive from listens to a song, there’s another whole chunk of musician income that’s disappeared.


Gadgets, Spotify, and more nails in the coffin

Once upon a time, everyone presumed that content was king.


Recently though, I’ve been wondering about that… content is only king if you have some way of extracting value from it…

Let’s think about the music industry.  Of course, it’s been a while since I posted anything on the massive changes the music industry is having thrust upon it unwillingly.  I guess I thought I’d leave it alone for a bit…

Anyway, I was maintaining my previous stance on buying CDs… being in a band with lots of musician friends, I liked to think that people still valued music, that it was still worth something to people.

But a few things of late have made me see that the actual value of music has plummeted so far that… well, I don’t know how much longer we’ll see anyone making money out of recorded music.  And if that happens, I guess we’ll wave goodbye to record labels too…

So what’s tipped me over the edge?

Well, the first thing is that the CDs that occupy the corner of our living room, all five hundred or so, aren’t really worth anything any more


Helen decided she was going to divest herself of some of her CDs.  I (being the hoarding, collecting type) would never countenance such a thing, but their Helen’s CDs, and she decided that since she never listened to them any more their stay in the Willshire household had come to an end.

So she went onto Music Magpie, a site that offers to buy your old CDs if you are done with them.  Their offer for Helen’s 15 CDs?  £5.76

Yes, less than two pints of beer.  A Charlatans album, apparently, is worth about 30p.


So the music that we own already is of value to us, but not really anyone else it seems. 

It seems kind of foolhardy to keep adding to this pile in the corner, especially given the other routes opening up where you can legally get music…

Which brings me to the second thing that’s changed my world lately; the Spotify iPhone app.


Spotify as a computer-based application didn’t really do anything for me; it’s not really where I listen to much music, and so played around for a while before I got bored.

The iPhone app is a completely different kettle of fish; it allows you to download and cache up to 3,333 songs onto your iPhone, and take them with you wherever you go, for as long as you like.

It costs £9.99 a month.  So roughly the same as an album.  I’ve only had it for 3 weeks, yet I’ve downloaded around 20 albums, listened to them, and then stopped listening to the ones I didn’t like that much (once upon a time, I’d have been stuck with a purchase…).

It’s basically like having a library card for a record shop, and you can borrow things for as long as you like.  


All very well, you may think, that sorts the commuting music… but what about when you listen to music at home? 

Well, a package from Amazon arrived today that sorts that… a new Sony mini hi-fi system with an iPhone docking station on top…


(yes, perhaps with a child on the way it’s not the time to be buying gadgets, but it was only £120 which we paid for by selling an old amp and mobile phone on eBay…)

What’s so good about it?  Well, because we’ve got a decent wi-fi signal around the house, the iPhone can play any of the songs directly from Spotify, through the system, into the house.

It’s very nearly replacing the need for CDs at all… sure, Spotify isn’t an all inclusive service yet (though it does have six million songs, which will keep us going for a while…).

But what the whole set-up has done has turned my mobile device into something that moves with me wherever I go, allowing access to music via either internal storage or straight from the cloud

It’s beginning to sound very close to the delightful technological future we’ve been promised for years.  So, what does it all mean?

Well, firstly, things aren’t looking great for the recorded music industry… 


If someone like me, who was until three weeks ago still buying CDs, is now listening to three times as much music at a fraction of the cost I used to pay, then whilst Spotify’s claim that their main target is piracy, in fighting that battle the collateral damage may just be to wipe out the little money the record labels were still making from selling folk like me CDs.

It’s sad to see it, but it’s more nails in the coffin of an increasingly defunct business model.

The second thing I think is important, possibly much more so than the music thing, is scaling this behaviour change into the future.

What is the media landscape going to look like when people carry around the 5th generation, 160Gb iPhone that plays BBC iPlayer content from the cloud…

…and plugs straight into their TV system at home? 

If this sort of behaviour shifts into the TV model, the changes in that sector will undoubtedly mirror those that the record industry is facing now.


And the thing about TV content is of course that it’s a lot more expensive to make than recording music.  Content creators are going to have to think very cleverly indeed to work out how they’re going to make money from it.

Content may have been king, but it’s increasingly facing a future living like a pauper…


Calvin Harris's Human Synthesizer

Rolf Harris brought us the stylophone, of course…


…and now his secret Scottish grandchild*, Calvin Harris, has taken music to the next level with the ‘Humanthesizer’… yes, it’s a Human Synthesizer.

It’s a great example of a musician using the internet to connect directly to fans I think.

Though as someone points out in the comments section of the youtube video, Calvin Harris always wears the exact same clothes.  An indication of the lack of money in music nowadays, perhaps?

(spotted by Suneil)

*bet you didn’t know they were related, huh?  That’s probably because they’re not...


Best Music Video. Ever.

Max here at PHD just sent this round… prepare to grin like a fool…

The internets was built for this.  And bee dogs.  And Kutiman

Happy days.


Ed over in the PHD Nooo Yoik office draws our attention to this… a musician fella who flew United Airlines, put his nice Taylor guitar in the hold, but found they chucked it around and broke it.  United refused to care about it, flatly refused compensation…

…so he wrote a song, and made a video…


Home Gaming is Killing Music

There’s a brilliant article in the Guardian this morning by Charles Arthur on what might really be killing the music industry… gaming.


Basically, people only have so much money in their pockets… and as far as home entertainment goes, there’s a new game in town, if you’ll pardon the pun.

Has the music industry been concentrating on ‘£50 quid bloke’ (yes, it’s been years since anyone used that term), whilst the kids have a brand new bag?


Beautiful #commutebox visualisation

Pete asked me this the other day…


…and at the time, truth was, it hadn’t gone that well… I’d played around with a few things, but found nothing much of note. 

For a reminder on what #commutebox is about, click here.

Anyway, I’ve just seen this courtesy of Neil… it’s called Visible Tweets, it’s made by the Man In Blue, and it’s beautiful

It basically takes tweets based around a word or hash tag, and animates them together in a variety of ways.  It’s very soothing indeed.

Thanks to the people who’ve been taking part so far, I’ll keep looking at interesting stuff to help visualise #commutebox…

in the meantime, click here to watch the #commutebox world go by, courtesy of Visible Tweets.






Breaking newspapers apart, one column at a time…

My friend Sam, who I’m in Gamages Model Train Club with, mentioned this in email conversation…

“do you read helen lindvall’s columns in the guardian? i think they’re fascinating, and i suspect you might find them interesting too:


[Disclosure… The Guardian are a beloved PHD client, of course (they were our founding client in 1990)]

So off I pop to the link, have a wee read through a column or two, and take the RSS feed and drop it into my reader…


It’s another great example of how newspapers need a new model to support their future

Sam likes something, sends it onto me.  I also like it, so we’re now both signed up, and we’ll probably tell more folk.  The ease with which the site allows you to

But neither of us are buying the paper because of it, nor actually visiting the website where we might see some ads which would help pay for it.  Yet we now both very much want the column to continue…

…how’s that going to work, then?

From the Clay Shirky article again:

“The old stuff gets broken faster than the new stuff is put in its place. The importance of any given experiment isn’t apparent at the moment it appears; big changes stall, small changes spread. Even the revolutionaries can’t predict what will happen. Agreements on all sides that core institutions must be protected are rendered meaningless by the very people doing the agreeing.”

I think there’s very probably a model out there already, being used somewhere for something that’ll eventually become the new model to support journalism…

…the trick of course is spotting what it is.  In order to do that, you’ve just got to try lots and lots of new things out.