According to The Telegraph, Apple is in talks with newspaper publishers to make an “iTunes for newspapers”:
Apple is believed to have created a suite of software to make it easier and cheaper for publishers to create attractive digital versions of newspapers and magazines, with high-resolution photos and videos integrated into articles.
As someone who got their start in newspaper design, it’s an interesting development to see.
The views of the small to medium size newspapers to the Internet has been stand-off-ish, to put it mildly.
Newspapers simply just don’t get the medium. And you can even say that of magazines as well—if you take a look at the failure of the Newsweek re-invention.
When you are talking about careers or reporters, editors, copy editors, supporting staff, etc., it’s understandable that change is feared. Even when you know the change is going to happen, getting off the Titanic in the Atlantic into a tiny lifeboat is a gutsy thing to do.
Now the technology just seems right.
It’s been encouraging of late to see a few beat reporters stepping up and using social media, iPhones (with its HD movies and HDR photo capabilities), etc. to create a more engaging all-around news reporting around the clock and not when it’s just time for deadlines.
As for Apple’s newspaper software, there are a few things Apple needs to do to make it for newspapers to experiment and adopt.
The first two things are: the software needs to be free and the software needs to be as drop-dead easy to use as possible.
Considering Apple is a company with a large cash reserve (thank you, iPod) and known for making very insanely usable products (thank you, iPhone), they might pull it off.
My third concern is that they might not get the workflow of newspaper production. It’s an entirely different beast than what is taught in design schools.
If they approach making newspapers like a Word-clone or a stripped down InDesign app, the project is dead before it even got started.
If they put as much thought as they did into the new Apple TV unit that’s coming out—where they got into how people used the device in their homes, etc.—then again they might pull it off.
One of my main thoughts of the iPad when it first came out was that this is closest to e-paper that we have had that is commercially viable.
So, it makes sense for newspapers and magazines to be in this space and it makes sense for Apple to put content producers on the iPad.
They missed the Internet revolution and are now getting a chance for a front row seat to the mobile medium.
Newspapers are getting a second chance at becoming relevant again.