i keep asking myself why many newspapers, publishers and other parts of the media industry seem to be so excited about the opportunity to make apps for the ipad. i mean, sure the ipad looks just like what i always thought the ebook should be – not just a book but a full-fledged media player and web browsing device etc. so i totally get why publishers are excited about it – it is the idea of making apps that i don’t get. as opposed to making web pages and web applications, that is.
for instance: why would i want a new york times app? i mean, what can i do with it, that i can’t do with nytimes.com? isn’t nytimes after all still in the business of selling words and images? and occasionally some moving images (oh, the wonders of technology – we can have video on the web)? or are they planning to make the nytimes into a first-person shooter?
doesn’t steve job’s commitment to html5 (and rejection of flash) indicate that, once html5 has been properly adapted, one will be able to deliver media to users in all sorts of interesting ways (including location-based) simply through the web browser? and of course, web applications have one huge advantage over apps: they don’t live inside apple’s walled garden. make one standards-based web page and serve it to not just the 1% of the world’s mobile phone owners that own an iphone (or an ipad), but to all the others who use android, symbian, blackberry, windows etc. sure there will be cross-platform issues with web applications as well, but surely not of the magnitude that there is in apps – in particular with apple’s new policies against flash and other third-party platforms.
consider these remarks from nick denton, publisher of gawker media, in newsweek:
“Wasn’t it obvious when one played with the WSJ and Time apps that the apps were a massive step back?” he says.“I loved the look of the Time app, but then I tried to select and copy a paragraph to send to a friend. I did the action automatically, without even thinking.”
And guess what? You can’t do that. “You can’t e-mail. You can’t bookmark. It made me realize how much the experience of reading has changed. Nobody really just reads anymore. They copy text, send links, tweet,” Denton says.
bear in mind that not every tablet user is likely to be an ipad user – in wired’s recent overview of 8 upcoming contenders in the tablet market, 5 will be running android. seems to me that cross-platform outreach will become ever more important. after all, which mass media outlet can base itself on a platform that is only at all accessible to a few percent of the population?