by Martin Veitch

What the papers will say about Apple’s tablet

Jan 21, 2010
IT Leadership

Crumbs, I can hardly wait until Wednesday. I’m fully expecting an earth-shattering announcement that will change the face of technology. And after Larry Ellison has finished discussing his plans for Sun, there’s always the Apple thingy to look forward to.

Seriously though folks, There’s going to be a scrum-down to get your opinion in when Apple launches this sucker so it might be as well to have some analysis canned. You’ll only need to re-heat for a few seconds come D-Day. So here’s your cut-out-and-keep guide as to what to say.

1. “Can Apple’s tablet save newspapers?”It’s a pound to a penny that Apple will have cut deals with clunky old-media companies so there will be plenty of chat around the tablet as saviour of newspapers and media game changer. Expect lots of agonised stuff about papers being the heart of the local community, hearth of debate and democratic institutions that scrutinise the powerful and hold a mirror up to society.

2. “Media giants held to ransom by power of Apple.” There’ll be some old guy moaning on about Apple’s Ts and Cs, noting the surprising fact that (a) Apple stands to make tons of money and (b) media fossils don’t. And there we were thinking Steve Jobs was running a charity.

3. “Are books dead?”Some effete old-boy novelist will be rolled out to talk up the tactile pleasures of reading with a torch under the covers as a boy, admiring the grain of the paper and what have you. He’ll argue that things like the Apple tablet and the Kindle threaten to spell the end of “post-Gutenberg” civilisation. After 2000 words of yada the conclusion to the headline question will be “kind of… but not really”.

4. “Apple’s tablet has promise but…”Outside of the fanboys writing screeds, top-notch journalists will be searching high and low for caveats, no matter how nitpicking. Such as…

5. “Apple tablet elegance comes at a price.”There’ll be no shortage of people saying this thing is too expensive as if nobody could figure out affordability without the aid of 300 carefully argued words in hand-wringing comnent pieces. Look, it’s Apple: the price is going to make you cry and force you to sell off a child or at least an organ. It’s going to have big, fat, juicy margins built in and a store so you keep paying. Even after you’ve died. Probably.

6. “The battery life sucks.”Of course it sucks. It’s insanely great so you have it on all the time like a kid from the Seventies who got free-vend on a Galaxians machine. Apple will also make it a universal law that you can’t swap it out for a third-party model made in China for two cents. This is Steve Jobs. He can do what the heck he likes. If you don’t like the battery life go back to your Windows thing. Now the cool kids are pointing and laughing at you. Shouldn’t have mentioned the battery.

7. “Apple’s tablet won’t play with other readers.”Big surprise. Apple won’t play the standards game so you now have a device that cost a month’s salary and it still can’t display the latest Harry Potter or Alvin and the Chipmunks movie. Cue lots of wailing and inpenetrable discussion of PDF versus EPUB formats.

8. “It’s a supersized iPhone/Newton 2.0.”Like you could have done better. Go ahead and be a wiseacre, pretending it’s a piece of crap so the fanboys provide hits for your site and send you angry messages. You even appeared briefly on Techmeme. You’re quite the snark and you’ve generated 15 cents from sidebar ads.

9. “The boys from Cupertino have done it again.”You’ve dialled in the story based on a quick look at the press release but referring to the Apple HQ will give you the air of an insider and relief from writing ‘Apple’ repeatedly. It needn’t trouble your conscience that have you never visited California.

10. “Apple hit by glitch.”It’s a new thing from Apple so of course the screen goes funny and the knob falls off. Desperate journalists will build up stories about the number of returns based on three comments in an obscure forum.

11. “Boffins issue Apple tablet warning.”It’ll take a month or two but pretty soon some duff wannabe media Prof toiling in the Woverhampton Science College will say that prolonged use of the tablet makes your eyes go funny and your fingers twitch or lead to anti-social behaviour. Academics: you’ve got to admire them, don’t you?

12. “Some carrier to get tablet in blah blah.”The thing’s announced, you’ve read the reviews and soon you might be able to actually buy it. Now stand by for reams of dull copy about which carriers have the honour to sell you air minutes.