A very strange title. The other one is a camera and the other – well, a tablet – something like Wacom-meets-the-iPhone -kind of thing. Why on earth do I mention them in the same sentence – a header, on top? Do they share something worth discussing?
As gadgets – or tools – definitely no. Canon EOS 5Dmrk2 is a very fine tool, highly appraised especially due to its video capabilites. It’s been around for like almost a year or so. Apple iTablet – well, it does not even exist – yet.
I’m talking about consequences – unintentional, unforeseen and unprecedented consequences to the printed media.
When 5Dmrk2 came to the market, as a much awaited upgrade to the mrk1, video was just another new feature – among some other fine qualities. It took everybody by surprise – including the engineers and R&D in Canon – that the film industry – and we are not talking about just some odd indie filmmakers – adopted it with open arms.
With the new firmware update, it soon became “The Tool” for doing moving images with superb control the DOF. Excellent performance also when working in low light. Cheap, on top of that. I’d go as far as saying that engineers at Sony started working in two shifts and it most propably rearranged the release of new products and productline in RED.
Now, there are increasing rumors that Apple will be releasing its new tablet in the first quarter of 2010. See eg. Huffington Post c. a week ago. I am not into spreading rumors – yes, I get constantly questions about Canon and Nikon, but for the most part, I am just not interested. There are real things to be done in life and I am not into speculating the tech specs of the latest upcoming camera model, whatever the brand.
Apple iTablet is a bit different story. We are all aware of the success – or call it a hype – of the iPhone. The other day I heard somewhere that the chinese just ordered 3 million iPhones “just to test them out”. I’ve been waiting my new model 32gb for several weeks now. Thanks to those chinese, I think.
IPhone is essentially designed for music. Sure, you can view movies, run thousands of apps in it, but in my book, these are nice extra. As much as I use them, I would not really classify them as tools. My MacBookPro is a tool, my iTouch (even though I have portfolios, educational movies etc. in it) is not.
And the bottom line, the key concept of the iPhone: it is based on audio.
ITablet will change that. Whatever the tech specs, it will be visually oriented – even if it has all the audio capabilites (plus some) of the iTouch/iPhone. And even it were to have not one single feature more apart from those found in your iTouch/iPhone, it will rock our world as we know it.
Our world? We?
That is: media and us, the journalists. That takes me back to my title: I predict iTablet will be like 5Dmrk2 was in the photographic world – it is just that very few people have stopped to think about it. It will be totally revolutionary as a media interface. Paradoxically, it might be the savior of the printed media – albeit, no paper.
Think about it: all your newspapers (or your favorite sections of them), all your magazines in RSS feed, waiting for you in the morning when you come downstairs to make the coffee. No need to load them, just bring the device home (ie. withing the reach of your own trusted WiFI). Don’t have time to read them at home? It is lightweight enough to take with you to work, read in the bus, in the subway… You archive stuff you found interesting into Delicious (or something of a similar nature) for future reference.
It looks good, it looks cool, it weights less than that sunday edition of HS/NYT , it is very easy to use, it is a very stable platform – and it’ll run flash content, as Adobe and Apple seem to have reached an agreement on that (finally). And it won’t even be that expensive.
You might be tempted to counter-argue that Kindle has been around for a long time, and it has not been a such a hit really. But comparing Kindle to iTablet is like comparing a Russian Lada from the nineties to the next years model of Ferrari. Design, performance, desirability, ease of use , size and weight – you name it.
I do NOT work for Apple so I am not making a salespitch here. But I am a professional visual journalist and it surprises me that I don’t hear more buzz about this in the media circles. You hear only the “geek-talk” – those who should be talking, those who should be excited are sulking behind the closed doors, staring at the latest circulation reports of their ever plummeting media.
If I were an editor-in-chief running a national paper – with a future clearly resembling a black hole with no light in sight – I would definitely set a R&D-team to see what is the essence of the journalistic content we should be running in a device like this. Now when there is still time to do it.
Does the iTablet come out before end of March 2010? What are the tech specs? Who cares, wake up! Really, that is not the point. It WILL come out – in one form or another – and for the printed media, it holds the promise of changing everything. Question is: for better of for worse?
And honestly: my guess is we are talking time span of months, not years here.
UPDATE (14.10.2009): Want some more insight into the wonderful future of the printed media? See Mark Loundy’s excellent article “Circling the Drain” in the latest issue of The Digital Journalist.
UPDATE (31.12.2009): Vincent Laforet, a photographer I respect very much published his view on iTablet and the future on New Years Eve 2009. I so rest my case…
UPDATE (28.1.2009): Apple launched today their iPad.