The iPad has been out for all of two days and already we are seeing apps that demonstrate not only how much more this device is than the “bigger iPod Touch” naysayers are dismissing it as, but exactly the kind of content delivery that it and it’s eventual ancestors are going to revolutionize the publication industry with.
Take the new Marvel Comics app. It’s a free app that is used as a gateway to the buying of single issues or a series from Marvel. They have both an iPhone version and an iPad version. Comparing the screenshots of two you can instantly see how the larger screen and form factor of the iPad changes the entire experience of reading a comic on a portable device. Flip the page with your finger, see the entire page on a vertical screen, zoom in for a closer look, browse the entire comic via a thumbnail gallery… all on a screen the same size as a real comic book. Wow. You can preview before you buy an issue, buy single issues or an entire series. You can also buy back issues. The app also syncs with your marvel.com account to back up all your purchased comics, so if your computer goes belly up or you get a new one you can access your entire library with your replacement device. Personally I think $1.99 per issue is a little pricey for a single issue. 99 cents seems more in line to me, but the market will work itself out with pricing.
I cannot imagine any publication not getting on board distributing and selling it’s content via a free proprietary app like this. The logical next step is to have subscribed content delivered via “push”, which would download your issue of MAD or People Weekly or your local daily newspaper right to your device while you are sleeping so it’s waiting for you when you are eating breakfast at the kitchen table, riding the train to work, taking a coffee break, etc with no need to have an active wifi connection or pay to use the 3G network. That kind of convenience, portability and the form factor/interface will get people to part with some money as they understand the difference between this and having to sit in front of your computer or laptop somewhere with a wifi connection and use it’s clunky web-based interface. No doubt publishers will quickly offer only limited content for free on it’s websites as well.
Hopefully DC will follow suit here and create a similar delivery system for it’s comics and maybe MAD.