More on the ‘iPad: will it save the world… or destroy it?’ debates
I always notice these things when I’m on five different deadlines and really shouldn’t be distracted, but when Dirk Deppey says I’ve missed the point entirely, as he does here, replying to my comments here— well, it catches my attention.
Dirk says: It [the iPad] has to be cheap enough to appeal to the general public, building a large enough pool of potential customers to once again make selling comics to a mass audience feasible — otherwise you’re just trading one limited, stagnant marketplace for another, selling primarily to a fraction of the same customer base that you already had. Which is what I think will happen with the iPad as presently designed and marketed, for reasons already outlined. … Here’s the thing about Google’s strategy: Because it’s both open source and backed by one of the largest tech corporations on Earth, they can make a strong appeal to manufacturers, not only for their operating system’s lack of licensing costs but also because it comes with an already-functioning apps store that sells across multiple hardware platforms, guaranteeing (to the extent that anyone can) a thriving online marketplace for one’s customers. This in turn offers creators and publishers a potential for mass-market ubiquity that Apple will never, ever be able to match.
The iPhone came out less than three years ago and Apple has sold 33.75 million iPhones sold by the end of 4Q09. That’s a mass market platform, certainly a larger number than the number of people walking in to comics stores. For a point of comparison, Time Warner Cable has less than 25 million cable subscribers.
An even bigger sales platform is the iTunes Store, which has been the number one music vendor in the US for almost two years straight, which has sold over 9 billion songs, over 1 billion HD TV episodes, and downloaded over 2 billion apps, while traditional stores like Sam Goody and Tower Records have pretty much gone bye-bye. I wouldn’t exactly call that a “limited marketplace”.
We already have reports that iPhone editions of some comics from major publishers have been outselling print editions of the books, and that’s on a platform that’s not optimal for reading comics.
If there’s a problem with the platform, it’s the problem of getting lost amidst the huge amounts of stuff other people are putting out.
Dirk, if you’re willing to bet against Apple, which is also “one of the largest tech companies on Earth”, more power to you– I remember the Newton too. But don’t be surprised if these new distribution methods and platforms turn your local comic shop into the 21st century equivalent of Record World.*
*For the youngsters: once upon a time, CDs (remember them?) used to be as big as your head, and they would have so much music on them that they turned black. And when you turned them over, there was more music on the other side!