The Holy Grail is not the iPad 2, It’s Customized Content

Written by Howard Fenton, Senior Technology Consultant at NAPL
Have you seen the Conan O’Brien skit about the worthiness of the iPad 2. It reminds me of a skit from the old Seinfeld series in which Elaine Benes talks about worthiness. While Conan’s skit is funny, it flies in stark contrast to what some other experts say is the real advantage of the iPad 2, which is that it sends the other tablet manufacturers back to the drawing board because they targeted the features of their latest product to compete with original iPad.
While it’s fun to focus on features and functionality of different tablet computers, there is something else going on which transcends individual product announcements. That is content and customized content strategies. Both Google and Apple have announced content strategies that allow consumers to access content on a variety of devices including smartphones, tablets and e-readers. Apple’s content plan requires that publishers use their app site and pay 30% for all subscriptions. Google’s new One Pass service charges publishers 10% and unlike Apple will not require payment as Apple does with their own app store.
But the 800 lb. gorilla in the room goes beyond how much publishers have to pay, which tablet is slightly thinner or lighter, or who has the better smartphone app. It is the ability to customize what I want, where I want and from which device I want. We are just starting to hear about this from Google who has included some features in their One Pass service.
While customized content is a subject for another discussion, this may be the most important subject for people who want to consume content digitally. Personally, I want to customize the content across different devices. On my smartphone, I would want alerts about weather and travel issues. On my Kindle, I want to access books, USA Today and my subscription from Mashable. And on my iPad I would want it all including the sports from the Denver Post, business stories from BusinessWeek magazine, and the Entertainment news from the Hollywood Reporter.
A good content strategy would allow me to customize which content I accessed on all my devices and would have an app on each device that would format the content to make it most legible for that device, such as the app Early Edition.
What do you think? Does size matter more than customized content?
Howard Fenton is a Senior Technology Consultant at NAPL. Howie advises commercial printers, in-plants, and manufacturers on workflow management, operations, digital services, and customer research. He is a paid contributor to this blog.

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