06
Oct 09

Revolutionizing the revolution

Who knows what the Apple iTablet will look like. But change things it will.

Who knows what the iTablet will look like. But change things it will.

Apple has gotten pretty good at the revolution business. When they enter a category, it is assumed that there will be a world-changing result. It’s fun, it’s exciting, it gets tons of free PR (which preloads the cannon for the next product). Coming soon: iTablet.

Apple does what they do so well, they get credited with inventing a new category — even though, technically speaking, they’re taking over an existing one. They’re revolutionizing someone else’s revolution. You might even argue that, other than the original Apple I computer, Apple has yet to create a single revolution from scratch. They simply identify an existing category and create something better. Vastly, exceedingly, wonderfully better.

The Mac debuted in a world of PCs. MP3 players were the hot device before the first iPod was unveiled. Smartphones were a huge market before iPhone appeared. Now iTablet will revolutionize a category populated by Kindle and its imitators, and all those netbooks. Following the Apple playbook, they will take this idea and turn it into something so fundamentally game-changing that all these other guys will be left scratching their heads and wondering why they didn’t think of that.

Kindle is cool, but shallow. It’s a convenient way to consume print’s black-and-white past. It’s a hint of revolution — but it’s a revolution about to be hijacked.

Just as iPod changed music and iPhone changed communications, iTablet will change the way we consume media. We’ll all say “of course” when we see a simple and elegant way to enjoy newspapers, magazines, books, music, movies and all of the Internet in one painfully cool device. We’ll marvel at the new vision of “the daily paper,” combining print with video and gorgeous graphics that bring stories to life (never mind that it’s all out there on the web already). And we’ll wonder how civilized people could ever have allowed all those trees to be slaughtered, only to be mashed into mega-tons of newsprint that get tossed at the end of the day.

The scope of this revolution requires Apple to recruit partners. Big ones. They’re lining up the major media companies, who will announce new forms of content designed to meet the new iTablet standard, just as they seduced the record companies and movie studios before. Newspapers and magazines, now a dying breed, will re-emerge with new vitality as an integral part of our mobile lives.

It’s not that others couldn’t see this coming. It’s that they didn’t have the will, the ingenuity and the leadership to make it happen. This is a revolution that needed a good hijacking.

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  • all good points, ken, and I REALLY WANT ONE NOW.

    Apple does what they are really good: distilling an electronic consumer experience to a really simple, easy to use, understandable, non-chore like activity.

    i have an Archos PMP, look them up here:

    http://www.archos.com/

    and i have to admit, for the past 2 years, it’s been great except (you knew that that “except” would be there) for the interface and OS, but now with Apple getting back into the Newton 2010 game, i actually look more forward to this device than i do to say another desktop or laptop from them.

    this looks ready to not only revive some online industries but consumer interest in ‘getting digital’ again… like the iPod got people interested in music collecting again … because it was easy to do and fit in the palm of your hand… saving newspapers? that one be too far to reach…

    any insights into the full capabilities and storage capacities?

  • Nice post Ken. Your insights are spot on as the formidable expectations of this device continue to rise with the passing of each suspenseful day. As you know, holiday season is upon us and Apple has a long history of maximizing interest and purchase of their products in this time frame. I would expect them to unveil this device very soon or I suspect that it will be a 2010 event.

    That said, this much-anticipated introduction raises the question, “will this revolution be televised?” As you know, we’re well past the days of the 1984 Mac introduction with Ridley Scott’s over-chronicled Orwellian TV commercial. I would hope that Apple recognizes the significant consumer shift in content consumption and chooses to align this important product introduction with an equally significant integration of social and new media channels. In the same way that Apple pioneered the use of television spots and the multi-page magazine inserts to introduce their breakthrough products, it would be somewhat of a disappointment if they did not attempt to do the same in the new media landscape with changed consumer habits and expectations.

    Looking forward to seeing what happens.

    PP

  • ken segall

    @marino

    I need to get more familiar with Archos. I went and looked at their stuff per your suggestion. Looks cool enough, but it’s all about Android really, and I’m not sold on that yet. I remember Archos from the first days of MP3 players, and how they tried (and missed) doing what Apple then came along and did so amazingly well. History will likely repeat, thanks to Apple’s skills and the public’s anticipation. And sorry, I don’t have any clues re: the specs of the iTablet. I’m just a concerned citizen like you :)

    @paul

    Excellent, excellent point. Interestingly, for all that the company does to leverage the power of the Internet in its products, it does very little in terms of leveraging the power of social media (at least as far as I can tell). Then again, Apple’s approach has always been pretty simple, and inarguably effective: maintain secrecy, fan the flames of desire, let key journalists in on the secret, then reap millions of dollars of publicity and hype on the day of intro, at no additional cost. Tough to argue with success.

  • ken, Archos is French, so you have to forgive them for that… they will try and miss repeatedly because they don’t have (apparently) what Apple has: a clear outlined path to follow and a firm hand on the rudder…

    they actually put audio limiters on the internal volume settings because the EU is very concerned with people blowing their ear drums out while listening to a movie or album … makes listening a bit of problem on the train home if Yankee fans are onboard, but they’re another company playing catch-up… although better (imho) than some others…

  • ChuckO

    I don’t get the iTablet. What’s the matter is your iPhone/iPod Touch to convienent for you? Is this the point at which we all climb into our “snuggies” cocoon strap on our headphones and forget about everyone else? Is there any other way to listen to these things other than with headphones? Is the whole family going to pull out their iTablet in the morning and create a terrible cacophony around the kitchen table? I need an iPod and an iTablet? iTablet doesn’t sound like a replacement for an iPod. I don’t want to play music with it in my car, right? The iPod makes more sense for that. I don’t want to replace my iPod dock/speaker’s. Actually I don’t want to and won’t those things are expensive (for the good ones). So now I have the pain of another thing to synch with iTunes. Yikes. I won’t even get into whether this is really any improvement for the environment over using paper. Sounds wacky to me.

  • Kaleidoscope

    Ken, I am dissappointed. Why is it that you limit your realm of “Technology” to computers and cell phones?
    After reading just two pages of your blog all I got was a bunch of Windows Bashing, Apple Love, Blackberry Trash and Motorola Junk. I must say, I was expecting you to shed light on things I didn’t already know about. Stuff the other bloggers haven’t seen or heard. Does the phrase Emerging Technology mean anything to you?

    By the way, does Apple pay you for per article?

    Sent from my iPhone

  • ken segall

    @Kaleidoscope:
    Bottom line is, I started a blog because there are things I like to talk about. If my variety isn’t enough for your tastes, you’ve got a few million other blogs to choose from. But try reading more than two pages, because I do go beyond computers and cell phones, and I do praise work from other companies — even if they’re in competition with Apple.

    Think I’m Apple-biased? Okay, ya caught me. Just like the news channels, papers, magazines and radio stations have their own slant, so the bloggers. That’s the way of the world. My technology experience comes largely from Apple and NeXT, but I have also created campaigns for IBM, Compaq, Intel (when it was exclusively for PCs) and most recently Dell. My travels have helped me form an opinion about what works or doesn’t, what’s right or wrong. I’d be surprised if everyone agreed with me. And I hope that those who disagree will still join in the conversation. In theory, that’s what will make this fun.

  • Kaleidoscope

    @ Ken:

    Like 99% of graphic designers out there, I too am Apple-biased. What I’m trying to say is, with all of this Apple hype everywhere – expectations get raised too high and that can be a sustainability problem (business-wise, brand-wise) for Apple.

    Made it to page four by the way. Fun it certainly is.

  • twobyte

    Quite, gentlemen!

    Ken, you did simplify a bit here: Mac was a failure until Aldus PageMaker saved it, iPod became huge only after iTunes was released for Windows and so on. Apple is still just another company. You like their products – it’s great, but don’t “swear” by it, [;ease!

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