Whether you’re basking in the afterglow or fretting unfulfilled, the tumultuous excitement of the iPad announcement has come…and gone. The reactions seem evenly mixed between the rapture and the crapture, with tech site grumbles loud and clear. Annalee Newitz at io9 has a well thought out complaint:
The iPad promises to be just as revolutionary as its predecessors, for one reason. It embodies, as much as possible, the mythical convergence device that technophiles have been craving for almost two decades. The convergence device, which people began to discuss seriously in the 1990s, would be a unified gadget where you could consume many kinds of media, especially TV and the web, with the same gadget.
In the end, she argues, the iPad is more of a dedicated device, as opposed to the amazing Tricorder: lacking multitasking, like a TV, it tunes into one function at a time. In that regard it is certainly not the be-all and end-all.
The mood is more hopeful among Big Media types, probably because they are fucking desperate for a white knight at this point. They want someone –anyone — to rescue themselves from the black hole they have gotten into.
Hope that paywalls — increasingly erected by such newspapers as the WSJ, with the NY Times following suit eventually — would be a solution were firmly dashed by the horrifying results of the Newsday experiment. The “fourth” daily in the New York Area, Newsday is known as the daily paper of Long Island. After putting their content behind a paywall for three months, the total number of paid subscribers at $5 a pop?
You can bet that number is haunting a lot of people. You could literally have made more money with a dinky display ad for a week. Of course there is a caveat:
The reason for this awful performance, according to Newsday, is that the website’s offered for free to “Millions of Cablevision customers in the New York tri-state area and 75 percent of Long Island households, including all Newsday home delivery subscribers, now have exclusive access to newsday.com at no additional charge,” Newsday said in a statement reported at Paid Content.
Watching the listed reasons why Newsday got only 35 people in three months is totally funny, and shows to what lengths people will go to protect a dumb idea. All of the points made miss a common fact of Internet life: people pay to be entertained, not informed. It’s easy to click from one site to the other to get what the user considers is the same information.
While Apple seems eager to be the middle for saving Old Media, despair over these kinds of figures isn’t helping any.
I, for one, am not champing at the bit to get an iPad — a feeling I’m sure will change once I actually see one, but for now, I’m happy with my wee little iPhone. And, perhaps oddly, I see the lack of multitasking as more of a benefit for the iPad/iPhone appliance. If this is the gadget that will save books, why the hell would I WANT to be doing 20 things at once? The appeal of “Curling up with a good book” is part of why e-readers have comfy cozy “K sound” names: Kindle, Nook. I do not want to read Wuthering Heights, answer my email, retweet, look at the temperature, write a a blog post, edit ringtones and play Zelda all at the same time. I do enough of that on my computer as it is….and it’s psychologically taxing! I think we need a little bit MORE attention focus, not less. A lot of us would love to snuggle up with something that doubles our attention economy.
Anyway, do you really think the Tricorder could really analyze alien blood samples and look up hailing frequencies on Wikipedia at the same time?