Tuesday, April 06, 2010


There are a lot of first adopters out there loving their new iPads. This is to be expected since the device is new, it's good looking, it's novel - there isn't anything really like it out there, except the iPhone, which is equally loved I'd say by people who own them. Now, the iPad is remarkable for many reasons, but I'm going to stress just one: it is a piece of hardware that more than anything else going right now, is ripe for business to be had with it. I don't mean big business, because every bean counter will look at the 30% Apple takes from being the purveyor of the ecosystem and pass up any opportunity to dive in. It's the latest sense of the phrase "Apple Tax." However, smaller folks or progressive medium to large sized businesses can get in and do things with the iPad that will make business happen. They may not create enough business to open up a new division, but for some lagging businesses (I'm looking at you dictionaries and reference publishers) this is the time to jump in and get going. Apple's market cap is nearing the great Microsoft, and -- without much to back this claim -- I predict Apple will eclipse Micro$oft in market cap and in market relevance within the next two years.

The business revolves around software applications, no secret there. There is no novelty to the development process, other than the iPad is a breakthrough device. Fast enough processor to impart smooth touch controls and fast seeming application performance, large display with sharp colors and beautiful contrast, and the best UI going. Better than any laptop, better than iPhones (which it most resembles), better than Blackberry, better than Android, better than Palm, better than Microsoft. Producing apps for the iPad means pushing software to the next level in terms of usability and interaction. How many iPhone dictionary apps behave like print dictionaries? In my mind they all do, but I'll grant the random commenter's claims of saved search, audio pronunciation, Scrabble score, etc. What I'm getting at is how many apps out there have evolved the dictionary into something new? Who will do for dictionaries what Apple has done with the iPad? And who will be the first to put this new dictionary on the iPad?

I won't even start on encyclopedias...