Well, OK , I haven’t actually got an iPad, or been in the same room as one, but I did see the launch and the demos and I am left wondering.  At the same time, the annual Gartner predictions reached the top of the pile.  And since I still had the  thought that, given the truth of jokes, it was at least possible that Steve Jobs would launch a revolutionary digitally-enhanced running shoe called the iRan, I clearly have not been paying nearly enough attention to the Press (or buying enough repetitive articles).

In my briefcase I have a netbook – ideal for hotel internet access – and a Sony eBook Reader, plus of course the ubiquitous Blackberry.  Each of these devices was bought to save weight, since as I have got heavier I want the world that I carry around to get lighter.  The next device that I want to buy is one that combines the functions of all of these three at the weight of the heaviest.  So how does the iPad match my demand curve?  Well , it sort of …doesn’t.

Colour is not my high demand, since most of the sad things I read are in black and white.  Price is not my issue , since while I want the cheapest and most effective I can point to a long career of buying over-priced innovation in a triumph of hope over experience.  New functionality is not my issue either: I am now inured to the fact that with any device, including my highly computerized car and the digital controller on the heating system and the new hands free phone installation here, I will never live long enough to understand and implement all of the functionality that cleverer men than I have built in, so innovation and replacement cycles are designed to stop me worrying about that, and bring me to a new device, newly replete with all the things that I shall never learn to use.

Which brings me to Gartner and my ardent wish for the iPad to succeed.  Gartner’s range of projections is as impressive as ever, since long gone are the days when pure wishful thinking was the only fix we had on these markets.  Today, the talk is far more sober and grounded, but no less startling (http://www.gartner.com/it/page.jsp?id=1278413).  For example, the realization here that by 2014 more than 3 billion people on the planet will be able to transact electronically (“transact” , not use a phone) is critical to our understanding of the global networked society.  In that year we are on target for a 90% mobile penetration rate (56% Africa, 68% Asia), and 6.5 billion mobile connections.  By 2013, mobile device connections, at 1.82 billion units, will overtake PCs at 1.72 billion as the primary connection to the network.  If you are thinking now of preparing your web presence at a future point for mobile optimization then you are almost too late: this is the last call for legacy conversion.  The people who succeed in 2013 are running hard now, and are probably not carrying the burdens of legacy web publishing, let alone legacy print publishing.

But the paragraph that caught my eye began ” By 2015, context will be as influential to mobile consumer services and relationships as search engines are to the Web”.  And, later on “context will provide the key to delivering hyperpersonalized experiences across smartphones” and “context will center on observing patterns, particularly location, presence and social relationships…. Whereas search was based on a pull of information from the web, context-enriched services will, in many cases, prepopulate or push information to users”.

What phases me is having Gartner write digital publishing strategy, but in a vital sense they are quite right.  Push and Pull were central to the debate in the early web days, but faded out in the great Age of Search.  In the post-Google world, where search is just another tool, Push returns, wrapped in the guise of personalization.  Will My iPad, or its elaborations, do that for me?  This is the key question.

There is a sting in Gartner’s tail.  I will quote it in full:

“The most powerful position in the context business model will be a context provider.  Web, device, social platforms, telecom service providers, enterprise software vendors and communication infrastructure vendors will compete to become significant context providers during the next three years.  Any Web vendor that does not become a context provider risks handing over effective customer ownership to a context provider, which would impact the vendor’s mobile and classic Web businesses.”

Any Web vendor ? If you are a content or information service provider, This Means You.  The competitive struggle for survival in network publishing intensifies, and the only recourse is to hybrid models and full service solution provision.  There is no ” Just Content” position anymore, unless you want to be a supplier to the sub-contractors of the people who supply the services.


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2 Comments so far

  1. Tweets that mention David Worlock | Developing digital strategies for the information marketplace | Supporting the migration of information providers and content players into the networked services world of the future. -- Topsy.com on January 29, 2010 13:58

    […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Laura Roth, David Worlock. David Worlock said: iPad and the future publishing model : a view from the back row http://bit.ly/cOh4Yp […]

  2. Charles Webb on February 4, 2010 22:09

    Many themes in this article strike a chord.

    The rise and rise of the mobile phone. No it will never end. By now that should not be a surprise. The need for people to communicate is irrefutable and having personally contributed to the first mobile data applications in the mid 80’s the possibilities were always understood, but the technology capability awaited. The end is nowhere close.

    Apple have always understood the need to make man-machine interaction “natural” and their current run is unparalleled in the development of technology, although I suspect it would of been no surprise to Turing. A phenomenal mash-up of design and technology. I am a huge fan. The iPad is already a success. Which other device has received so much attention (positive attention, I am not thinking Microsoft) before it is available?

    Having worked with Tom Lawrence who was an early investor and board member I know that the vision has never wavered in 40 years.

    Google is irreplaceable but also provides a very manufactured and filtered view of our world for the unaware…… A much longer discussion.

    And, the key point of your commentary, context is the forgotten, exiled king. The company that should of been but wasn’t, Scoot.com,as understood this and recognised how this linked to and had its foundation in publishing through its relationship with your good self, MacMillan, VNU and yes Gutenburg. Scoot was the only board I have heard regularly referenced Johannes – the Dutch connection. Pretentious? Not at all. Insightful? Certainly.

    A very round about way of saying, I wholeheartedly agree.