Apple announced on January 18th that the are introducing iBooks2 for the iPad.
This announcement albeit small in nature has massive impacts for several reasons.
1) It attacks a traditional industry – book publishing head on. People have been reading books on e-readers for a while now but the content has just been migrated from paper. Very few books have taken advantage of the processor features which can play video, sound, and be interactive. The only books which have really taken advantage of this are children’s books and they have been massively successful as learning tools.
The impact on the publishing industry is going to be swift. You may see publishers go out of business within 2-5 years and some will try to refocus on other types of content. For the authors, I fear that their profits may suffer short term, but long term if books are cheaper, people should buy more of them, unless piracy comes into play.
2) The lines between “app” and web are starting to be blurred through the use of HTML5. I am excited to see how the use of iBooks will actually boost the usage of HTML5 on the web and make content faster, more interactive and easier to build. Once this starts bleeding over into the TV realm, you are going to see some amazingly interactive TV shows with a much higher level of stickiness. Overall, this should increase ad rates long term.
3) A new audience for learning will be opened up. iPads and tablets have a certain magic about them with older adults and young kids. They are easy to approach and use. As tablet sales go up, you will see more and more seniors online and more baby boomers come online. This new audience will open up a whole new realm of teachers and learners for both the traditional schools and for profit universities. In reality everyone loves to learn things they are passionate about. I can see millions of life long learners coming online and sharing their learnings with other learners via the iPad or any tablet for that matter. Think of it like a socially interactive Wikipedia or the laymens version of a MOOC.
From a marketing perspective, this new platform will be a massive lead generation environment. Imagine a user reading a book about psychology and all of a sudden, you have the ability to show them that there are 2 schools teaching this exact book within 25 miles and 1 school teaching this book online. If I were the reader, I would be pretty interested in finding out if I should make my interest a real degree.
However, as much as I would like to see this as a marketing platform, there is reason to believe that people will have voracious appetites for free content but stay away from environments that require testing or loans. Time will tell…
4) Keep an eye out for the mad rush to create books – even if they are 5 pages long, as teasers.
5) Now this iBooks platform may have a negative impact on online schools in the short term. Even though most of the schools offer a curriculum that is designed to be taken on a computer, few have optimized their learning for iPads and the on-the-go lifestyle of many folks. I would love to see schools start to create tablet based learning environments and use that as a marketing tool. EG – Learn Psychology on your iPad and get a degree from X school. That would have an awesome Click Through Rate.
If I had to make a recommendation to folks reading this, I would say do the following:
a) Try a children’s iBook to understand the potential of this platform. Give it to a kid and see how effortlessly they adapt and interact with it. Then give the same kid a newspaper and see what happens. Key thing to measure is how much time they interact with each and the amount they retain from each.
b) Learn more about HTML5! It is tremendously important! Just knowing what it is capable of helps you understand how vast this platform can be.
c) Take a look at your own content – what can be made into an iBook? Remember, books are not books anymore. They are full on 3 sense experiences. Seeing, hearing, touching.