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The future of print is a touch screen tablet?

We’re all wondering where this digital age will take the print world. Sports Illustrated and Time Inc. are testing a multi-touch tablet device like a large iPhone as a delivery system for its engaging content. Here’s how MinOnline.com describes it and below is a video preview. As an iPhone junkie, I can only say that I’m VERY excited for the future.

You can squeeze it and stretch it. You can swipe it, zoom it, send it, often rearrange it, and at times even rewind it. The prototype of a Sports Illustrated digital magazine for future tablet-format appliances is dazzling just about all the journalists the SI crew has been showing it to in the last day or so. As the demo video below shows, SI Tablet seems designed for some sort of future oversized iPhone with a touch screen interface with multitouch capabilities. The cover turns into a full screen video clip. The Table of Contents activates right rail sliders with snapshots of the relevant article. Traditional section tabs become interactive buttons that aggregate content by topic. Readers can lean back and browse the full contents of the current issue with a page flipping swipe or they can lean in to reorganize the content and pull in customized information from their My SI bucket of favorite teams. While SI Tablet bears a vague resemblance to the static â??digital magazinesâ? we have been seeing for the last decade, this model leverages the technology and the interactive touch platform to rethink what both magazines and digital can do.

Community Comments

#1 Tom Wood
December/4/2009
@ 11:27 am

This looks great! There is also a lot of work being done on flexible OLED screens, so the device could end up being a small tube where the screen rolls up inside.

#2 Drew Litton
December/4/2009
@ 11:57 am

This falls in line with the rumored Apple tablet that some say will be a game changer much the way the iPod was. The possibilities are endless. The revenue for cartoonists…well, I’m hopeful.

#3 Ted Rall
December/4/2009
@ 12:51 pm

As far as the possibilities for cartoonists earning more money from digital advances:

“The possibilities are:
End.
Less.”

#4 Tom Wood
December/4/2009
@ 6:51 pm

As far as the possibilities for cartoonists earning more money from digital advances:

â??The possibilities are:
End.
Less.�

Why? How could a large expansion of the distribution channels -not- create more opportunities for revenue?

From the article:

The good news from the focus group is that they like the product and they seem eager to support the business models. One interactive ad was so attractive McDonell recalls hearing a tester say something he had never heard in a focus group before â?? â??â??Can we go back to that ad?â??â? But perhaps more to the point for a beleaguered print industry struggling for new models, the test audience said the magic words. â??When we asked them if they would pay for this, they said â??absolutely.â??â? In fact, most testers said they would want both the print and Tablet versions.

So there’s ad income and subscription income. They will have to pay -something- for quality content.

Why would this work for journalists but not for cartoonists?

#5 Ted Rall
December/5/2009
@ 3:33 pm

Why? How could a large expansion of the distribution channels -not- create more opportunities for revenue?

Because, until now, the expansion of distribution channels has had the opposite effect.

It really is a pisser: these new devices are incredibly cool. And they’re ruining things that are very important.

#6 Ted Rall
December/5/2009
@ 3:38 pm

To expand a bit, what seems to be happening is that total revenues increase in each media form as distribution channels increase. This benefits aggregators and fuels the argument that overall, things are getting better.

Unfortunately, total revenues can’t increase as fast as the number of pipes for distribution. So average revenues are falling precipitously.

We’ve seen this effect in other fields. In music (which may be a bad example since total revenues are way down since CDs began being replaces by iTunes) we know the day of the multimillionaire superstars like Michael Jackson and the Beatles is past. More importantly, the ability of a mid-level band to earn a living has been greatly reduced.

On TV, hundreds of cable channels divvy up revenues once shared by three super-rich networks. Total TV income is up, but no one makes very much. And of course the big three networks have shrunk a lot.

And in our field, of course, there are now thousands of cartoonists splitting income once reserved for hundreds.

#7 Ted Rall
December/5/2009
@ 3:40 pm

And to elaborate on that…

It’s both good and bad that there are more cartoonists getting access to the public. It’s good because it makes the profession more vibrant and gives readers more comics to choose from. It’s bad because it’s harder for the good ones to stand out and to earn a living wage–thus discouraging them from staying in the field.

#8 Tom Wood
December/5/2009
@ 5:19 pm

I understand your point about the fracturing of the market into smaller pieces, but that was happening anyway. As you point out, Cable TV started that trend a long time ago.

Maybe my choice of the word ‘channels’ was wrong. A device is a device, not a channel. Sports Illustrated is a channel that is now operating on the internet platform. The channel pre-existed the device, but the device offers a new way for the content to be consumed. So, maybe it’s a ‘consumption route’ that has been added?

#9 B.J. Dewey
December/5/2009
@ 7:24 pm

Re Ted’s elaboration on more cartoonists accessing the public: the good ones may make less, but rather than get discouraged and leave the field, I’d bet they’ll find a way to stand out and stick around because they love what they do and they ARE good. That’s a combination hard to give up.

Whatever, we’re beginning to get glimpses of what the future might look like and, as Alan said of the multi-touch tablet, it is VERY exciting.

#10 Steve Greenberg
December/5/2009
@ 8:01 pm

The most hopeful thing about new platforms is that they can have new business models that people might be willing to pay for. We all know folks don’t want to pay for Internet content, but they do pay for iPod music and iPhone apps on those platforms, so maybe there will be some new revenue on these new devices that can trickle down to cartoonists.

#11 Pedro Molina.
December/7/2009
@ 11:39 pm

let’s turn newspapers into Iphone apps!…

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