With today's introduction of Apple's iPad to Europe and parts of Asia, a slew of applications have appeared on the market to deliver information directly into the hands of iPad users. The iPad, Apple's much-anticipated version of a tablet computer, has the capacity to download applications, programs designed by third parties which iPad users can download for free or pay a typically low price. Given the popularity of the iPad, news sources have been quick to take advantage of the direct communication that the iPad provides. In particular, Thomson Reuters has produced two different iPad applications, which the company hopes will increase news consumption. Meanwhile, Condé Nast Publications has recently developed a completely new version of their Wired magazine specifically designed for iPad.
Indeed, Reuters might be onto something where it concerns the iPad's effectiveness in encouraging news consumption: Newspro, the more basic of Reuter's news applications, has already attained 75,000 downloads and reports that users spend triple the amount of time on the application than on Reuters.com. However, it is still too soon to tell if this form of news delivery has any amount of staying power. While Newspro's initial numbers are impressive, they could simply be a reflection of consumer's fascination with the chicest, shiniest, and newest gadget from Apple. It remains to be seen if either of Reuters applications will be able to retain their popularity once the initial fascination with the iPad dies down.
Yet another threat to the staying power of publications on the iPad is Sony's introduction a new e-reader in Japan. A day before the introduction of the iPad into the Japanese market, Sony announced their plans to build "one of the largest eBook distribution platforms in Japan" and thus challenge the relevance of the iPad in the Japanese market. Sony's e-reader, much like Reuters' iPad applications, will deliver newspapers, books, and magazines directly to e-reader users. The introduction of Sony's e-reader presents a profound threat to the popularity of the iPad and its applications. Especially as consumers come to realize the limitations of the iPad as a tablet computer, Sony's e-reader could become a less expensive and more viable source of electronic news.
Overall, the future of the iPad and its applications is rather uncertain. Despite its popularity, it is likely that consumers will eventually come to be disillusioned with the iPad once the initial haze of fascination has lifted. Only time will tell if the chic and fashion-forward quality of the iPad will win out over the practicality of Sony's e-reader.