Will the iPad save the publishing industry? How can the iPad help traditional publishers reinvent themselves?
At the 2010 SXSW Conference, Bloomberg interviewed Pete Cashmore, the CEO and founder of Mashable. The interviewer asked Cashmore about his opinions on the iPad's potential impact on social media (the question is posed with around 1:37 left in the video). Although he wasn't directly asked if the iPad would save the publishing industry, I found Cashmore's response very telling:
* Besides consumers, the greatest beneficiaries are current publishers of books and magazines
* He mentions how the magazine, Wired, is creating a special edition for the iPad
* The iPad introduces an opportunity to charge consumers for content particularly because iPhone owners are used to paying for apps
Who's Developing Applications and Content for the iPad
Major publishers and magazines reportedly developing applications and content for the iPad include:1,2
* Simon & Schuster
* Hachette Book Group
* Vanity Fair
* The New Yorker
* The Associated Press
These organizations are literally banking on the opportunity to charge consumers for online content. But, what I find most interesting is Cashmore never mentions:
1. If Mashable is creating content specifically for the iPad or
2. If Mashable will ever charge consumers for its online content
Who Isn't Developing Applications and Content for the iPad
Why didn't he? In my opinion, it's because new media players like Mashable don't need the iPad or a paywall to succeed. Mashable doesn't carry the high cost structure of traditional media firms. Unlike these larger companies, Mashable can sustain it's business through online advertising. Cashmore thinks Mashable has the opportunity to become a media powerhouse. They've competitively positioned themselves and have already gained considerable traction and critical mass with their audience.
This is the case Mark Andreesen (former founder and CEO of Netscape) makes to Erik Schonfeld in the March 2010 TechCrunch article: Andreesen's Advice to Old Media: "Burn the Boats.":
1. The "new media" companies aren't investing a lot of time and resources to create iPad-specific content
2. It's the "old media" companies who are focusing on the iPad opportunity
3. Technology companies deal with and adapt to constant disruption (and he provides examples the succesful ones confronting it head-on)
We'll see who survives. This quote from Arianna Huffington in a February 2010 Inc. Magazine article sums things up perfectly: "I don't think that newspapers are dying. I think there will be fewer of them, but there will always be newspapers."