Glossy Talk: The iPad poll (with soapbox prelude)

The hot water-cooler topic this week, at least for those of us immersed in media, is the impact of the iPad on publishing (unless you work on Woman's Day, in which case it's Glenn McGrath's new girlfriend). And now Google has gone and rained on Apple's parade by releasing plans for a rival tablet computer, it's clear that Big Business has a vested interest in ensuring we are all excited and educated about this digital device.

The iPad promises to revolutionise our daily lives, just as the iPod allowed us to tune out
real-world noises (turned up loudly enough, everyone can enjoy your playlist!), the mobile phone made us available 24/7 (text at the dinner table, in bed, from the bath!) and the PlayStation made our kids obese and socially inept. Whee! What's not to be excited about?! Now, instead of hauling yourself to a library or book store (where there are people – ew, annoying!), you can upload books to your virtual bookshelf to read at the hairdresser, or scroll through headlines from The New York Times as your friendly barista froths up your milk, or read a blog as your bus goes over the Sydney Harbour Bridge. Are we getting the gist?

Now, I love a new gadget, and I can totally see how the iPad might make the paper-munching world more environmentally friendly, but as a girl who's chained to her MacBook for the better part of her day, my main bugbear with the iPad is the further threat it poses to real social interaction: because we need another distraction like a hole in the Ozone layer.

As a blogger who makes a buck from this site, this rationale is like looking a gift horse in the mouth. But the idea of yet another device that sucks our attention away from real people (with skin on) irks me. Relationships with digital devices are taking up more and more of our time: for what benefit? When was the last time you had a real D&M with a friend, colleague, your mum, your partner?

I have been in a MacBook coma before, and am only now learning to ween myself off it (no blogging or emails on weekends so far). The iPad, with its compactness and portability and shininess and newness, is a major temptation. If you're the type of person who can maintain a healthy balance between online and offline interaction, good for you; go buy one! If you tend to verge on the extreme and/or have an addictive personality, like moi, I might suggest you think twice before handing Steve Jobs your cash.

As I considered buying one myself, and read the responses from a glossy poll I took on the subject earlier in the week (below), I was reminded of a three-hour train trip I recently took, during which time I struck up a conversation with a stranger, wrote notes from what I observed, paged through a book and contemplated life. It was blissful. Had my head been fixed on an iPad, I would have missed out.

In response to the question, "What is the biggest drain on happiness?", Gretchen Ruben, author of The Happiness Project, recently told U.S. Glamour magazine: "Someone I know recently said, 'The internet is both my lifeline and the plastic bag over my head.' If you read celeb gossip for an hour, that's an hour you could have spent with a friend." As Janet Jackson and Luther Vandross once sang, the best things in life are free.

The iPod Poll: glossy publishing panacea or pain in the butt? GWAS asks the glossy bunch (and, um, herself)...

"I'm possibly being naïve, but I don't think it's either. We are a long way from a seamless migration to digital for magazines and even if and when we do reach that point, you will still need magazine experts, journalists, photographers etc who are passionate about producing content for magazines, whatever form they happen to take. I think it's exciting to have more and more ways of experiencing the magazines, newspapers, books, blogs, whatever. Bring it on!" Jo Elvin, editor, UK Glamour

"Mags have always been about a marriage of great visuals and content, so the iPad might renew their competitive edge in an era in which savvy readers are increasingly consuming their information digitally. The iPad isn’t going to change the fact that mags are facing far more competition for eyeballs than they used to, though, so they’re going to have to be able to outplay the rush of new lifestyle, beauty and other niche sites if they want to prosper." Rachel Hills, freelance writer/blogger/digital editor

"Apple’s iPad is a nod to the importance of printed publications in the lives of influential, cashed-up, early adopters globally. Every morning one of my first ports of call is The website satisfies my news appetite, but when in New York I choose the newsprint version, perhaps out of habit. I’m 40+, and therefore wasn’t born, or even schooled, with a computer. The iPad will attempt to bridge the divide for my generation. Will it prevent me from actually purchasing, flicking through and breathing in the scent of the printed pages of American Vogue? No. But I know that I’ll be lining up to buy one as soon as it’s available here, providing I can purchase and download the list of books I’ve been meaning to read and the international magazines and newspapers that I would like to be able to read without delay. If embraced smartly by publishers, the iPad could prove to be an import new revenue stream." Marina Go, publisher, Independent Digital Media

"The iPad certainly offers mag publishers a way to claim back ownership of digital content, which has been given away so freely online without the return of huge financial benefits that banner advertising once promised. But the trick will be for publishers to package up e-magazines in such a way that readers will be happy to subscribe to them (via iMagazines, surely), when there is still so much free online content to be had. E-mags will have to be so visually stimulating you’ll want to pay for the experience." Katrina Lawrence, freelance writer and (former) editor

"To use a crude analogy, the iPad is the pantyliner of the tech world: a sort of stop-gap between the fully functional notebook and portable iPhone, it doesn't yet present itself as an essential item that will change your life – particularly if you are a heavy magazine consumer or blogger/producer of online content, like moi, and don't spend a lot of time commuting. However, if the product does prove to be popular amongst the general public, I can see a plethora of new, independent e-magazines entering the market, which will pose a threat to traditional magazines' ad budgets and possibly overwhelm readers with choice (in which case, they'll revert to trusted mastheads). It's also, obviously, a great thing for bloggers who might find new audiences to access, but will have to adapt content and layouts to suit the screen. Magazine publishers should be quick to find away to make the iPad platform work for them, as GQ and Vanity Fair are doing in the U.S, though Australian publishers have traditionally waited for others to test the waters before investing too heavily in new technology." Moi

Read more on the iPad (and e-readers) here:

Analysis: The iPad's Many Challenges @ Min
Apple's iPad: A Question for the Magazine Industry, Not an Answer @ Folio
9 Things You Need To Know Before Buying a Kindle @ Mamamia

Yours truly,
Girl With a Satchel


justine said...

"The internet is both my lifeline and the plastic bag over my head."

It was exactly this quote that ultimately lead me to your blog, as it very much resonated with me.

Admittedly I too,was lured in by this shiny new gadget (despite my technotardness - or hey, maybe thats precisely why!)and found myself dreaming of how it could enhance my life and business. However with any so-called "advancements" and "progressions" in technology I'm always very cautious.

You've written so eloquently precisely how I feel. We already live in such a disconnected world, we want everything yesterday, it needs to be at our fingertips. Convenience, convenience, convenience. Whether it be food, books, or conversation. We've got more technology than you can poke a stick at, more information, yet we're sicker, fatter and more disconnected with ourselves and our planet than ever before!

As you pointed out the "real" things can't ever be replicated ;)

Thanks for the great post!

Style On Track said...

Love the review, I couldn't agree more with what you've written :)

Style On Track said...

Love the review, I couldn't agree more with what you've written :)

Anonymous said...

I have an issue with your claim that electronic technology is better for the environment than paper. If you look at the research out there, paper leaves less of a carbon footprint than its electronic counterpart. Plus, paper is a renewable resource. Just a thought, and slightly off-topic, I know.

Erica Bartle (nee Holburn) said...

Totally valid point re. paper and one worth considering. I did second-guess this before posting - clearly more research would need to be done looking into tech vs paper carbon footprint.

balufeb4 said...

Good post, nice blog. Thanks for share useful information. I like this post.

childrens jewellery said...

It looks great but dont see myself ever buying it

NatWebster said...

I am a bit over this constant dawning and idolisation of anything and everything Mac brings out. I will not be buying one of these or a Kindle or anything else. I do have an iPhone instead of a home computer and that's enough for me. Nothing can replace the smell and feel of a book to my mind and i refuse to read electronically.

SachaStrebe said...

oh how my fascination for books from the smell of freshly printed pages, to the literal flipping and eardogging of my favourite glossys, there is no way that the i-pad could ever replace my love for the written word on printed paper... however, i do like the idea of the i-pad, but only if you don't already have a macbook or an i-phone.. i think having all three is clearly ridiculous and all consuming. I have a blackberry and that takes up enough of my precious time in emails, facebook alerts, twitters and sms... so no thanks, i will not convert completely, and i will NEVER give up my glossys... love from your faithful mag hag and self-professed glossy addict... xx

Bruce Princeton said...

My initial reaction when I saw the Apple iPad was

confusion. What functionality does this device offer

over and above the Apple iPhone? And what market is

Apple aiming this device at?