A few months back, when Steve Jobs introduced the iPad, I predicted it would be just another nail in the coffin for traditional media. Why? Because it would more easily replace print and if media companies still gave their content away, their print readership would erode as quickly as their advertising revenue has diminished.
Well, I finally bought my own iPad last week and have to tell you I am hooked. The iPad makes reading, listening to and watching media better than ever. Frankly, it's hard to put down. When the print edition of The New York Times arrived on Sunday, I just let it be, preferring to use my iPad to access all kinds of information rather than pick up the old newspaper. I wandered through all kinds of content, including the NYT, YouTube, NPR, etc., rather than dive into the physical artifact at my feet. Which only reinforces my belief that the iPad is another nail--if media companies continue to make all their content free. It's simply a preferable way to read journalism.
So far, of course, the media offerings on the iPad are currently few and not that all impressive. Much has been written about the absence of The New York Times' mega-app which is still in limbo. Zinio's newsstand of magazines is a bit of a hit-or-miss mess. As far as I'm concerned, the few standouts so far in media are these:
1) NPR. Designed by Bottle Rocket, NPR's iPad app is the single best news and feature application available today. It has a spectacular carousel interface that is fun to use, and it works like a gem. Bravo to the folks at NPR for getting it out so quickly, but mostly for making an app that is enjoyable to use, that easily accesses the great content produced by NPR, and that makes great use of this media player's sizable audio files.
2) USA Today. There's a wealth of content here and it's highly accessible on this app. This is well-designed and cleverly implemented. For now, it's all free which puts USA Today in the forefront for iPad news junkies.
3) BBC. Not as good as either NPR or USA Today, but pretty damn good, nonetheless, for the great content produced by the BBC. It's also obviously free.
John A. Byrne is the chairman and CEO of C-Change Media Inc. Until recently, Byrne was editor-in-chief of BusinessWeek.com and executive editor of BusinessWeek. He holds the distinction of authoring a record 58 cover stories in BusinessWeek magazine and is also the author or co-author of eight business books, including two New York Times' bestsellers. Byrne had also been editor-in-chief of Fast Company magazine. He founded C-Change Media, a digital media company, to take advantage of the sea change that is roiling the traditional media business. C stands for content, curation and community, the three common attributes of each C-Change web venture.