I read a great quote recently about the Apple iPad release on Wednesday. While Steve Jobs commented that Apple and iPad were placing themselves at the crossroads of Technology and Liberal Arts, Stephen Fry says: “He might perhaps more accurately have said that Apple “stands at the intersection of technology, the liberal arts and commerce”.” This is an excellent point and it will be fascinating to see whether the iPad catches on, and what impact this will have on the consumer landscape with respect to the buying and selling of media. While many will dissect the features of the device itself, the fact of the matter is that this device and others like it are driving us ever further along the road of the new consumerism where customers don’t go to a physical store – the store is always on and always in our bag or our pocket, and the ability for instant gratification and delivery is a reality.
iTunes dwarfs all other sellers with respect to music and media online, and are now making a break towards reading material. Amazon built internet commerce with their store and their impossibly long shelf of books. Amazon recognized the potential of the shift to portable electronic media when they came out with the Kindle and Kindle DX. The implications of a massively popular device that allows for downloadable media like books, newspapers and magazines are massive. While Kindle has opened that door a crack, iPad has the potential to rip it right off the hinges with the volume of users it can bring to the party.
iTunes and other online stores have the capability to charge a reduced rate for a publication that can be provided instantly. There is no more incentive to wait in a queue ’til midnight for the new Harry Potter novel, to wait until 5 am for your morning paper, or to wait for you monthly subscription to Wired to arrive. It just arrives. While the Kindle does this already, the iPad can take it up a notch by providing a more accurate reflection of the physical experience of reading a magazine and some books by providing a flashy, engaging full colour format in a novel, hip, interactive package – one upping the Kindle.
From a consumer facing organization perspective, this opens another rich mobile channel. With the iPad, consumers now have a web enabled (though no flash) 9.7″ 1024 x 768 screen in their hand wherever they go. They’ve not only got the store in their pocket to buy music, movies, books, newspapers and magazines, but they have a portal to the physical world that does not currently exist.
The package presented by the iPad transcends the problem with mobile devices – the small screen. Now consumer facing organizations have a bigger window to show clients. Instead of trying to order a meal from Swiss Chalet on your mobile device and having to scroll through myriad menus and sections to pick your options – all very well done considering the screen real estate at Swiss Chalet Mobile – consumers can potentially look at a menu exactly as you would see at the store, pick the items off the touchscreen, and finalize the order in a format and interface that is far more like being in the restaurant than either a PC with a mouse or a mobile device.
The GPS and compass in the solution allow that “full screen” device location enablement. The purchaser of a new dress can look online for a matching pair of shoes online while she is in a cafe by perusing a visual search engine such as Like.com. That shopper can now see that the pair of shoes that she likes are at Nordstrom. If Nordstrom has thought it through, she would be able to see on their site that the store has 1 pair left of size 6, and she can have them put on hold for her at the click of a button.
The fullscreen also provides an interface more likely to drive clickthroughs on targeted advertisements as well. This provides a potentially rich opportunity for the beleagured magazine and newspaper industries who can now provide richer feedback to advertisers on who is clicking on their ads, and allow those advertisers to use the GPS to drive offers to readers with a further level of refinement.
It appears that consumers and retailers alike are in for a richer mobile experience.