Wired’s Tablet App is Impressive and Raises Questions

Wired has demoed an application for a Tablet that is running on Adobe AIR and yes it is demoed running on a Tablet. Publishers are certainly hoping this kind of effort is the future and that they will figure out a way to entice us all to pay for these things. The jury is still out on that.

I went back and looked at my records from about 12 years ago. At that time I subscribed to 14 different publications on an annual basis that were delivered by regular mail. I also bought two daily newspapers each morning and the Sunday New York Times each week at a cost then of $4.50. All told I was spending about $700 a year on all of this. That eventually stopped and those costs were simply transferred to paying for Internet access.

Several points about this.

First, you can tell how much the iPad has invaded the thinking of so many as quite a few articles about Wired’s app mentioned it as an iPad app. It was being demoed on another device. We all know Apple’s stance on Adobe’s Flash platform, and from the sound of things, Adobe might be positioning AIR as an alternative to fighting that battle, but there’s no guarantee that Apple is going to let AIR on its platform either. We’ll have to wait and see on that.

Second, Wired’s app proves that great design is going to be a key element for acceptance, in addition to content, but the technology for delivery is going to also be an important factor. Face it, publishers are going to want their content on any device they can get it on. An Adobe AIR like solution would certainly make that easier but a battle over who controls what is not going to move things along for anybody.

Third, in the longer view, Wired’s demonstration shows that there could be a resurgence in the kind of content creation and delivery that led every high school activity group to sell magazine subscriptions as a fundraiser for a good portion of the last century. The question is will we be willing to pay for it and value it in the ways we paid for content in an earlier era. Yesterday also saw a story about how their is some internal struggling going on at the New York Times over pricing of its future digital product. The circulation folks apparently want to see a monthly cost of $20 to $30, equivalent to what you pay for the paper to be dropped on your doorstep. The digital folks see a much different model of around $10 a month.

I don’t think anyone has the answers yet. The next few years will see all sorts of attempts and experiments to try and make this work on a number of levels, and somewhere in the future a model will probably evolve. But given the pace that things shift technologically these days, it is most likely going to always be a moving target. That is going to require a flexibility that will need to be learned as well for those hoping Tablets will be any sort of salvation.