Apple iPad: Top Technology/Publishing Story of 2010

by | Dec 28, 2010

This is the time of year when newspapers, magazines, blogs and TV shows line up their “best of the year” programs to fill the space between Christmas and New Year.

Well, we’re no different over here at the Book Designer. But looking back over the year, although there have been lots of big developments in publishing, indie publishing, social media and the wider world, there’s one development that looms largest over the year: Apple’s wildly successful launch of the iPad.

You could argue that the iPhone was a bigger technological leap, in that it changed the behavior of tens of millions of people and ushered in the smartphone era almost singlehandedly.

But this year, the iPad had a tremendous impact for a number of reasons:

  • It finally hit the target for a tablet computer. Companies have tried to introduce tablet computers for many years, and each was a failure. When the iPad finally came out—and remember, at the beginning of the year we didn’t even know what it was going to be called—it simply brushed aside all the failures of the past, along with the eInk screens of the ebook readers that came before it. If you use an iPad, you know that it has shifted forever the personal computing paradigm. There will be other tablet computers, probably many of them, but the iPad showed once and for all that tablets were real computers with a real market.
  • The iPad has begun to revolutionize periodicals. Delivering rich media in beautiful color on a fast, connected and stable platform is the only future for many magazines, newspapers and other periodicals. We’ve seen good versions and crippled ones already, but developers are only beginning to explore the ways the iPad can be used to deliver subscriptions of all kinds.
  • The iPad is the only mobile platform for rich media “books.” There’s a lot of talk about developing books that seamlessly interact with video, audio, and other media. Although these products have yet to gain a foothold in the market it’s reasonable to predict that they will find their way there. The iPad is designed for this type of content, and nothing else even comes close.
  • The iOS is developing into an enormous market. Because the iPad and iPhone run the same operating system, many apps are now being designed to run on both. As Ian Paul reported in PC World, “Apple’s total iPhone user base may reach as high as 100 million users by the end of 2011, according to Morgan Stanley analyst Katy Huberty. In a widely reported research note, Huberty expects to see about 42 million iPhones sold by the end of 2010.” iPad sales are now expected to top 20 million during 2011, adding to the 8 million already sold. This will bring the worldwide iOS market to almost 130 million devices.
  • The iPad is the “stickiest” technology ever invented. Marrying portability, robust display properties, processor speed and the intimate experience of the touchscreen interface has created an incredibly “sticky” device, one that quickly brings “computing” to a level of personal interaction you never dreamed of while sitting in front of a big black desktop computer. The longer you use the iPad the more ridiculously useful it becomes. The device has shown us that computers can be fun again, no small achievement.
  • The iPad will only get better. Apple will continue to try to stay ahead of the Android-powered tablets that are starting to come on the market by pushing more functionality into the iPad. Rumor has it that the next version will have the dual-camera setup of the iPhone 4. Think of the communications device an iPad becomes as a real-time videophone with a huge, gorgeous color display. That’s a game-changing leap for personal communication.

I think a lot of the innovation yet to happen on the iPad will involve personal creativity. Already it’s made the idea of publishing PDF versions of art books and photography books a reality, although we could use a better marketplace for these publications.

But people want to create on the tablet, that’s the ultimate activity that will exploit the touchscreen interface and the personal connection people feel to the iPad the most. That will be exciting.

For all these reasons, and for the vast potential yet to be unlocked in this remarkable, convergent device, I vote it both the top technology and the top publishing story of the year.

How about you?

Image licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License, original work copyright by Veronica Belmont,

tbd advanced publishing starter kit


  1. Michael N. Marcus

    The top publishing story of the year may have happened near the end of the year.

    Barnes & Noble reported that it sold more than ONE MILLION EBOOKS on Christmas day, and could have sold more. B&N’s servers were overwhelmed by the traffic and couldn’t keep up with the demand.

    B&N also reported that eBooks now outsell pBooks on its website. Earlier this year, reported that eBooks exceeded the sale of hardcovers.

    Bob Dylan has important advice for writers who resist eBooks:
    “Then you better start swimmin’
    Or you’ll sink like a stone
    For the times they are a-changin’.”

    B&N may find it hard to pay the rent for all of those big bookstores with the revenue it gets by selling magazines, bookmarks and coffee.

    And an iPad update: Each Hyundai Equus comes with a 16GB WiFi iPad containing the car’s owners manual.

    Again: “the times they are a-changin’.”

    • Joel Friedlander

      Wow, I guess the age of the ebook has arrived. I wonder what the sales figures will look like from Amazon? Thanks for the update, Michael.

  2. Tom Evans

    To me the iPad is an eWriter in a world of eReaders – for an author it’s an absolute joy and essential tool (unless you can read your own writing which I can’t)

    For me the ability to draw, mind map and write on one simple tool (plus email, tweet, calendar and give kids hours of edutainment) is simple amazing

    • Joel Friedlander

      I’m with you, Tom, love all the things I can do with my iPad.

  3. Roger C. Parker

    Dear Joel:
    I share your enthusiasm for the iPad.

    I, too, was initially skeptical about the iPad…until I spent about an hour with my son’s, and was sold during the first 10 minutes.

    What stands out to me, about the iPad’s significance in 2010, is the fact that niche publications, like Railfan and Railroad,, which serves a niche market of retired railroaders, (not usually thought of as the cutting edge of technology,) is creating an iPad app for overseas subscribers.

    Thanks for sharing your perspective.

    • Joel Friedlander

      Roger, that’s interesting. Although subscriptions haven’t yet taken off on the iPad, it seems like a natural, and niche players will definitely benefit. Thanks for your thoughts on this.

  4. Michael N. Marcus

    I agree. The iPad is definitely the number-one tool — and toy — for 2010.

    I buy lots of electronic tools and toys, but my rule is to wait for the second generation so I can get something better and spend less. I’m comfortable being an “early adopter” but don’t have to be on the “bleeding edge.”

    I’ve violated this rule twice in my life.

    I decided that the Blu-ray DVD player was too good to deprive myself. I paid $1100 for what is now available — in better form — for $99. I do not regret my decision.

    When the iPad was announced I thought about it and decided that while it might be nice to have, I didn’t really need it, and could wait for gen-two.

    My logical abstinence lasted until the sixth day after introduction. I could not resist, and do not regret my decision.

    It’s hard to imagine life without my iPad — or Blu-ray.

    Michael N. Marcus
    — Create Better Books, with the Silver Sands Publishing Series:
    — “Stories I’d Tell My Children (but maybe not until they’re adults),”

    • Joel Friedlander

      I think I was in the same situation. I liked the look of the iPad but couldn’t imagine what I would do with it. After 1 month, when I learned that 1 million iPads had been sold already, I went down and bought mine, and haven’t regretted it either.

      Still don’t have the blu-ray player, though. Think the prices will keep coming down?



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