Can Apple save the written word?

Newspapers and magazines hope new computer will do for them what the iPod did for the music industry

Nowhere is next week's launch by Apple of its new tablet device more breathlessly awaited than in the executive offices of traditional publishing houses. For the tablet – or the iSlate or the iPad as it may become known – is regarded as a possible saviour for newspapers, magazines and textbooks.

There are electronic reading devices in existence already, such as Sony's e-Reader and Amazon's Kindle. But, publishers hope the unquestioned design talents of Apple will ensure that its latest product is the vehicle that enables them to transform their business models. After all, the iPod has converted millions to the idea of paying to download songs and, to a degree, has revived the music industry, becoming the world's largest music retailer in the process. The iPhone has created a culture of acquiring apps for "just about anything", many of them paid for.

Newspaper content is already being widely consumed on smart mobile phones but mostly for free. With a touch screen of 10-11 inches, the Apple tablet presents publishers of all kinds with the opportunity to create an entirely new reader experience, one that consumers might be persuaded to pay for.

David Rowan, editor of the UK edition of the technology magazine Wired, said that the size of the tablet screen could mean that readers enjoyed a "comparable experience" to reading a magazine. Innovative publishers would be offered myriad opportunities, such as accompanying an article on a film director with video footage, or a recipe piece with touch screen links to ingredients.

But he warned against the idea of thinking that the tablet would replace glossy magazines. "The reason there is a buzz of excitement in the publishing industry is that it has been a very scary 18 months for a lot of existing big media companies and people are looking for a golden solution," he said. "I don't think it will be that but it's an opportunity for innovative companies to find extra ways of building an audience."

One obstacle with the Apple tablet may be price – likely to be $1,000 in the US or £1,000 in Britain, including VAT. Then there is portability. Many consumers are very happy with the petite nature of a smart phone, having paid out for a Google Android or an iPhone. "Am I going to want to carry a delicate, solid, 10-inch screen?" wondered Rowan. "I don't see that many people with Kindles and eReaders when I'm out and about."

Neil Robinson, digital director at IPC Media, agreed there was a hope that Apple would unveil a device with a user interface of revolutionary design. "Arguably Apple offers us the best opportunity so far for an interactive device," he said. "Hopefully it will be quite a significant step forward." He said publishers needed such a device to provide an attractive platform for advertisers, who have been reluctant to take their business to magazine websites.

In reality, Apple needs the publishers – and their journalism – as much as they need it. Taiwanese company Micro-Star launched a tablet two years ago which failed partly because it carried insufficient access to content. Jobs and his team are in talks with Rupert Murdoch's News Corp, the New York Times Co. and magazine publishers such as Conde Nast and television networks including CBS and Disney.

The New York Times this week announced that it would be demanding payment for access to its website and industry observers say that the newspaper publisher is discussing with Apple whether it could begin charging for news through iTunes.

The Financial Times is looking at a micropayment system of paying for individual articles. The FT's publisher Pearson is also a major producer of textbooks, and it is possible that the Apple tablet could be more successful than the Kindle in providing an interactive touchscreen platform that allows students to read books while accessing related video content and information relating to their personal course work.

"We welcome innovations that allow students and other learners to access our content at any time and any place," said a company spokesman yesterday. Over to you Mr Jobs.

Apple vision: Building the future

HITS

iMac (1998): The brightly-coloured desktop computer is now regarded as a classic of late '90s design, and it had the performance to match.



*iPod (2001): The small, stylish music player swept away all of its competition in the MP3 market.



*iPhone (2007): Easy-to-use internet access coupled with Apple's ingenious "App Store" ensured a winner.



MISSES

*Newton Messagepad (1993): One of the earliest PDAs (personal digital assistant), its handwriting recognition system was frustratingly inaccurate.



*G4 Cube (2000): It looked good compared to other desktop computers of the time, but critics complained was too expensive and cracks appeared in its clear plastic casing.

News
Susan Sarandon described David Bowie as
peopleSusan Sarandon reveals more on her David Bowie romance
Sport
Arsenal supporters gather for a recent ‘fan party’ in New Jersey
football
Sport
sportDidier Drogba returns to Chelsea on one-year deal
Arts and Entertainment
The Secret Cinema performance of Back to the Future has been cancelled again
film
PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
ebookA wonderful selection of salads, starters and mains featuring venison, grouse and other game
Life and Style
Balmain's autumn/winter 2014 campaign, shot by Mario Sorrenti and featuring Binx Walton, Cara Delevingne, Jourdan Dunn, Ysaunny Brito, Issa Lish and Kayla Scott
fashionHow Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Christian Grey cradles Ana in the Fifty Shades of Grey film
filmFifty Shades of Grey trailer provokes moral outrage in US
News
BBC broadcaster and presenter Evan Davis, who will be taking over from Jeremy Paxman on Newsnight
peopleForget Paxman - what will Evan Davis be like on Newsnight?
Life and Style
fashionCustomer complained about the visibly protruding ribs
Voices
The new dawn heralded by George Osborne has yet to rise
voicesJames Moore: As the Tories rub their hands together, the average voter will be asking why they're not getting a piece of the action
Sport
Dejan Lovren celebrates scoring for Southampton although the goal was later credited to Adam Lallana
sport
News
newsComedy club forced to apologise as maggots eating a dead pigeon fall out of air-conditioning
Arts and Entertainment
Jo Brand says she's mellowed a lot
tvJo Brand says shows encourage people to laugh at the vulnerable
Life and Style
People may feel that they're procrastinating by watching TV in the evening
life
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Gadgets & Tech

    Systems Manager - Dynamics AX

    £65000 - £75000 per annum + Benefits: Progressive Recruitment: The client is a...

    Service Delivery Manager (Software Development, Testing)

    £40000 - £45000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A well-established software house ba...

    SSIS/ORACLE DBA

    £400 - £401 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: SSIS Administrat...

    Technical Systems Analyst

    £25000 - £30000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: An ambitious...

    Day In a Page

    Evan Davis: The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing to take over at Newsnight

    The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing

    What will Evan Davis be like on Newsnight?
    Finding the names for America’s shame: What happens to the immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert?

    Finding the names for America’s shame

    The immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert
    Inside a church for Born Again Christians: Speaking to God in a Manchester multiplex

    Inside a church for Born Again Christians

    As Britain's Anglican church struggles to establish its modern identity, one branch of Christianity is booming
    Rihanna, Kim Kardashian and me: How Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain

    Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain

    Parisian couturier Pierre Balmain made his name dressing the mid-century jet set. Today, Olivier Rousteing – heir to the house Pierre built – is celebrating their 21st-century equivalents. The result? Nothing short of Balmania
    Cancer, cardiac arrest, HIV and homelessness - and he's only 39

    Incredible survival story of David Tovey

    Tovey went from cooking for the Queen to rifling through bins for his supper. His is a startling story of endurance against the odds – and of a social safety net failing at every turn
    Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

    Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

    The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
    Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

    Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

    Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
    German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

    Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

    Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
    BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

    BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

    The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
    Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

    Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

    Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
    How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

    Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

    Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
    Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

    Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

    Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
    10 best reed diffusers

    Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

    Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
    Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

    Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

    There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
    Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

    Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

    It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little