When Steve Jobs held up the shiny new Apple, he unlocked a shiny new multi-billion dollar market for publishers.
The Apple iPad's unveiling was Jobs' slickest premiere to date. It didn't matter that there wasn't a huge technology breakthrough. In fact, the techno-blogs are burning up over what the iPad 1.0 left out. Even the name was predicted by many. According to The Economist, an Irish bookmaker had the favourites as iSlate and iPad. The first batches of iPads won't even hit the stores until April. The only big surprise was the lower than expected price.
So why did the earth seem to stand still and the Internet stagger under the weight of the announcement?
It's simple. Jobs and Apple have just created a new media channel.
It might be more accurate to say Jobs orchestrated a worldwide cultural event to legitimize the tablet. He called the iPad "magical and revolutionary." We've been here before and still we can't keep our jaws from dropping. It's beyond technology and beyond marketing. From 1984's launch of the Macintosh to the iPhone's debut less than three years ago, the IPad is the latest Jobs-generated cultural phenomenon. In a week we've gone from "what will it be?" to "I've got to have one!" During the Grammy Awards, the iPad was hyped by Stephen Colbert as the coolest device on the planet because he had one and the music world's elite didn't ... yet.
The iPhone wasn't just a smartphone device. It legitimized the mobile Web experience and created a mobile apps market with more than $200 million worth of applications sold in Apple's iPhone store every month. That's a $2.5 billion annual market for a three-year old "channel." The iPad is a new channel that should be a perfect fit for the content and apps from newsmedia companies. Steve Jobs has given us another bite at the Apple. Act now. We can't afford to wait for this low-hanging fruit to hit the ground.