The iPod moment

I’m writing my Guardian column this week about the “iPod moment” coming to newspapers and TV. I’d like to hear what you think the iPod moment means for both. I’ll give you my view later but won’t prejudice you with that or with links to others’, which, too, shall come. When do you think the iPod moment will come? What will make it come? What will it mean for each medium?

  • As I my experience at this point is very much limited to the American Market, my comments below reflect this experience. If anyone out there has experience in other markets, I’d love to get your feedback!

    The “ipod moment” that forever changed the music industry isn’t coming to Newspapers in the same instant (and by instantly I mean over the span of 3 years) revolution the music industry saw. Newspapers will shift, they will change, but for at least the next 8 years, I don’t see their business fundamentally changing. Walls will continue to fall, digital distribution will become increasingly more open, but the tactile newspaper experience is an ingrained part of the American culture and isn’t going away anytime soon. While I personally don’t often read the newspaper in analog, most American’s do. A research study I saw a couple of months back performed by one of the leading giants in the technology industry found that American’s want the tactile experience that is newspaper reading. Perhaps in 15-20 years from now, as our digital interactions become more ingrained into our everyday lives AND as today’s youth become tomorrows leaders – we will finally see this “ipod moment”.

    The television industry has already begun their “ipod moment”, but I think it will finally hit in a major way sometime between 2009-2011. Tivo and Sling are getting smarter and more capable. Apple TV brought awareness of place shifting to the couch to the masses. Rumors abound that Joost will be on set top boxes in about 18 months and Veoh TV is already aggregating streams from across the internet into a single player. The technologies powering TV’s “ipod moment” are already being rolled out. Once they become as simple, organic and useful as the iPod, the entire traditional television is going to change in remarkable ways.

  • For me, “the iPod moment” for newspapers would be if my 12- or 14-year-old nagged me for a new newspaper, with more stuff inside of it, even though they had just bought one a short time earlier.

    Don’t see that one happening.

  • The iPod moment for Newspapers comes when there is ubiquitous broadband access available everywhere. At that point, when it is as easy to read a newspaper website on a train, or as a passenger in a car, or in a park, etc… on a device such as the iPod touch, which provides a superior user experience for reading longer material – not on a small cell phone/Blackberry/Treo screen with a limited view and poor font quality.

    The iPod moment for radio comes at a similar point – ubiquitous broadband access – as terrestrial, satellite, and online streaming as well as podcasts are all available on a portable device on demand, anywhere.

    Compressing all of this in one device is a big plus. Use your iPod Touch to read the NY Times AND listen to your music. Oh and let’s just add e-book reader in there too. I’ve seen nothing about using the Touch or iPhone as an ebook reader, but I’m sure the experience is far superior to any other that is out there.

    We are approaching this point for all this, but it cannot happen until we have always on, always available broadband anywhere.


  • Tom Coscarelli

    I prefer to think newspapers will be hit with an “iPhone” moment that will accelerate their erosion as a news source.

    If you accept that the iPhone is the first generation of a portable way to get email, phone, internet (wifi and easy display) along with the many companies putting money to improve this process, then this will reduce the need for a print product even more.

    Portability? Timeliness? Newspapers used to be able to charge more money for ads because the reader was engaged with the product. Guess which medium is portable, timely and engaging?

    Google maps show me traffic problems in real time. Local people are writing reviews of best stores for these maps. When Google decides to focus on hardware and software for phones, the competition will increase and customers will benefit.

    RSS readers and web pages that I decide what goes into and on is another thing papers – with all their “executives” – cannot match.

    Contrast this to the money newspapers are not putting into their product. Google has already pulled down their pants by putting local stories from newspapers on the Google site, with Google getting all the credit for links.

    Belo, the parent of Dallas Morning News and “CueCat”, is splitting off the newspapers from their TV properties. Everyone is playing defense.

    Newspapers, with dwindling resources, are competing against the web but the next battle will be fought on the field of mobile technology and personalization. Unfortunately, newspaper executives barely get the web battle let alone a new one.

  • Well I guess it depends what you mean by ipdodmoment..

    If it’s ubiquitous access to news sites then it will be when free wi-fi clouds exist city-wide particularly on public transport and in other public places, and when screens/electronic paper make reading less painful than on the tiny screens we’re used to now. (Though interestingly, for kids these days, any small improvement in screen size – from b/w mobile phone, to colour, to ipod, to ipdod touch etc. seems like a massive improvement).

    If it’s distributing news via a new business model, then we’re not far off. I’ve been enjoying your recent pieces (esp following the NY Times ending subscription, in light of the FT’s decision this week). Take the Guardian, for example. It’s US web-based fan base is massive. But not one of them actuallly “pays’ for the content in the way that UK print readers do. But Having said that, I doubt that anyone in the UK would be that bothered by that – they probably don’t even notice/know. I guess the ipodmoment for papers will come when people simply pay for the difference in production costs between getting something printed, folded, and delivered to them, compared to via a screen. If they can be bothered…

    p.s. – saw you on the news programme, which I’m booked to go on next week. Nice job.

  • Rob Haggart

    It already happened. It’s called a blog.

    A newspaper or magazine is simply a reflection of the editors taste and skills. Blogs mostly have one editor and one writer but that doesn’t mean a collection of blogs can’t be called a newspaper.

  • The iPod moment for newspapers will be when truly functional ePaper hits… color, touchscreen, wireless Internet built in, agnostic to standard, plays video, can work and read when not connected. A cross of the functionality of the iPhone, today’s browsers and the TimesReader. It will be even more of a moment if that ePaper can also allow data entry for tagging and blogging, VOIP and so on. I dunno how many years.

    Remember, people from MIT Media Lab and elsewhere imagined such a paper for the movie Minority Report. It was shown as USA Today in one scene on the train.

    I agree with others, though, that it’s coming incrementally. I can, today, do many of these things on my smartphone, and certainly on a laptop I carry most places.

  • There wont be an “iPod moment”
    Newspapers are in the same position as saddle makers when the horseless carriage arrived.
    We still have horses of course, but saddle makers have changed to supporting a minority hobby, providing a luxury product to a few customers.

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  • Living in a world with more and more focus on the environment, it will possible be the demand on stopping the distribution of such enourmos paper quantity.
    Every newspaper reader will be supplied, I think even the newspaper will support it, with a “new pda newspaper reader”.
    You download just the pages interesting for you, and it can always be printed out on your printer or maybe on a special newspaper printer.
    All within 5 years.
    I do not think newspapers, ever will become an ipod phenomen.
    The size does not fit in.

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  • Disaggregation

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  • Crawford

    It happened with the launch of Mosaic and search. That was it.

  • It means fewer columnists writing disposable crap about the fluff they found in their navel this morning.

    See – I wrote about this a couple of weeks ago.

  • Thanks, all. Good discussion.

    Susan (Crawford): I ended up agreeing with you. The iPhone is the iPod moment, I’m writing, because it brings the browser to your pocket (Scott Adams says that when that happens, the printed newspaper is redundant). All the iPhone reallly does is snip the wires that tethered the browser. Now the broswer is everywhere. So it was the broswer that was the iPod moment. Making it mobile and ubiquitous merely accelerates the forces we’ve already faced in the last 13 years (since the Netscape browser was released in October 1994).

  • bluntnib

    Cheap, reliable, unrestricted flat rate access to the mobile internet at broadband speeds on standardised portable devices and phones. It has happened in Japan and Korea already but US and European networks are still running scared – hence the hobbled iPhone

  • bluntnib

    Jeff – The iPhone certainly had the potential to be catalyst you seek. But Apple missed that opportunity by agreeing restrictive, exclusive contracts with Cingular in the US and the 02 network here in the UK.
    The mobile internet will not take off until the carriers and the manufacturers stop colluding to screw customers for outrageous data charges.
    My bet is this will take 2-3 years to shake out

  • David Marshall

    When the last of the baby boomers has left the planet.

    I teach high school math. My wife has high school English. All of my students have experienced the “Calculator Moment”, or said another way; they can’t multiply. 70% of my students cannot finish 100 “times table” problems in less than 6 minutes. 98% could not divide 565.45 by 26.3.

    60% of my wife’s students are at a 4th grade reading level or lower. She sits on our couch at night and often breaks into tears, reading assignments that appear to have come from an elementary classroom.

    They can surf like the wind and appear to be geniuses when it comes to categorizing 10,000 songs. But they do not read. Some never. Many have never been to the public library. When she takes them on her annual field trip to Barnes and Noble, they walk through the columns of books like they are in the Smithsonian.

    When will the Ipod Moment “officially” arrive? When the last of the library cards expires.

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