Apple Tablet Will be a Game-Changer

On Wednesday, the world changes, starting with newspapers and magazines.

By SHARE

By John A. Farrell, Thomas Jefferson Street blog

Now that I'm an older dog, I am finding that it's indeed more difficult to learn new tricks. But I can't wait for next week, and for Apple to turn my world upside down.

In fact, I would rank my feeling of anticipation as I await Apple's rumored announcement of a new tablet computer (apparently scheduled for January 27) right up there with the thrill of scoring Springsteen tickets in a college gym in the '70s, or buying Sgt. Pepper in the '60s.

Maybe, after surveying the iSlate or iTab or iPad--whatever the gizmo will be called--I will decide to live my remaining years trotting out in my bathrobe in the rain to get a wet newspaper from the curb; hauling out my recycled newspapers each Wednesday; packing multiple electronic devices (laptop, Kindle, phone, iPod) on trips, and guiltily watching the stack of unread issues of the New Yorker and Esquire climb ever higher on my office bookshelf.

But I doubt it.

I suspect that the new tablet devices, coming from Apple and other manufacturers, will be game-changers. And I think they will transform, and rescue, quality, well-paying journalism. Any loudmouth with a keyboard (like yours truly) can blog. But it's going to take teams of skilled professionals--writers, editors, photographers, filmmakers, software designers--to create the kind of slick content that tablet users will come to expect.

Think about your latest edition of the New York Times--or GlobalPost or Playboy or U.S. News. Now think of it on steroids--after the equivalent of a bunch of young video game designers have given each story exciting graphics, audio, video, and instant access to the limitless background material available on the Internet, all retrievable with a tap on the touchscreen.

Movies. Books. Music. Recipes. Videophone. Alarm clock. Newspaper. It will be the last object you touch at night, and the first you turn to in the morning.

I don't think it's a coincidence that the Times announced this week that, in a year or so, it will start charging for access to its website. You paid $12 to see Avatar. And you won't mind paying, via advertising or subscriptions, for the enhanced, tablet super-Times.

And if you're one of those Free Content cheapskates, don't worry, the text version of the Times will still be there on the Internet. And for some of us old dogs, print will linger too.

But mark my words, folks. Take it from someone who has spent his whole life mining and organizing information and selling it in the market. On Wednesday, the world changes.

  • Check out this month's best political cartoons.
  • Become a political insider: Subscribe to U.S. News Weekly, our digital magazine.
  • Follow the Thomas Jefferson Street blog on Twitter.