Tablet revolution is accelerating

The switch from laptops to tablets is accelerating, and this fall we’ll see an avalanche of new products like the Surface from Microsoft.

In some ways, the death of the laptop is being exaggerated. Most people who are getting tablet computers are also buying tablets. Sure, some people will replace their laptop with a tablet, and new consumers may choose a tablet over a laptop, but laptops will still be essential for most business people and students.

Still, you have to wonder what some companies like HP are doing. They risk being left behind as Microsoft bypasses them and they don’t have their own tablet solution.

Boogie Board is a different and popular tablet

Kent Displays, the company that makes the Boogie Board tablet, is getting more VC money and is hiring 40 more employees in Ohio.

The Boogie Board is a modern equivalent to the old-fashioned chalk slate – a device that allows users to write and quickly erase messages on a screen the size of a sheet of paper. Company spokesman Kevin Oswald said orders for the boards have forced the plant to run three shifts a day for much of the year.

He added that he expects orders to increase this fall when the company adds a version of the board that can save images for later use.

“[The expansion] will allow us to meet worldwide demand for the Boogie Board tablets for the foreseeable future,” Oswald said.

Sales of multimedia tablets, such as Apple’s iPad or Motorola’s Xoom, have boomed this year, but Oswald said Kent’s product doesn’t compete with those. Boogie Boards cost $40-$60, depending on size, and are meant as a replacement for notepads and paper, not computers.

It will be interesting to see if this technology eventually finds it’s way into the all-purpose tablets.

New Kindles already sold out!

Amazon has released the new Kindle and has reduced the price, and the new versions are already sold out, though you can place an order and get on the waiting list.

This is quite a development when one considers that many were pronouncing the Kindle to be dead upon the release of the iPad. That said, for every fool who made that prediction, there were many savvy tech analysts who pointed out that the Kindle was still superior for long-form reading. That’s the phrase you’ll consistently be hearing from Jeff Bezos. The iPad is a brilliant device that just may help save the magazine and newspaper businesses, but reading a book is a much different experience. In that context, the graphics aren’t necessary, and the glossy screen needed to produce the graphics and touch-screen features is a hindrance to reading in the sun or reading for a long period of time.

Thus, the Kindle and similar devices devoted to the long-form reading market will always thrive.

It might be cool down the road the have a dual-use device, where you have the glossy screen on one side and the Kindle-type screen on the other, but for now I expect to use both devices, and it doesn’t hurt to have a free Kindle app on your iPad so you can do some reading in those cases where you have your iPad but not your Kindle.

Magazines and the iPad

Commentators have been debating whether online news and opinion articles should be put behind pay walls to help the struggling publishing industry, but developments like the introduction of the iPad by Apple will make many of these discussions moot.

With the iPad and other tablets, publishers now have a new option with loads of potential, with the ability to send out electronic versions of their print magazines with colorful ads. Then, by adding interactivity and video, the ads can become more engaging and much more effective. This story from the WSJ offers a glimpse of what’s to come.

Time magazine has signed up Unilever, Toyota Motor, Fidelity Investments and at least three others for marketing agreements priced at about $200,000 apiece for a single ad spot in each of the first eight issues of the magazine’s iPad edition, according to people familiar with the matter.

At Condé Nast Publications, Wired magazine is offering different levels of ad functionality depending on how many pages of ads a marketer buys, according to a person familiar with the matter. Advertisers that agree to buy eight pages of ads in a single issue of Wired magazine will be able to lace video and other extra features through the iPad version, say people familiar with the matter.

Magazines largely are planning downloadable iPad applications that are near-replicas of the stories in the print versions, but they are demonstrating the new-media bells and whistles for advertisers: add-ons like videos, social-networking tools and navigation that take advantage of the large screen, touch technology and Internet connections of the tablet computer.

Time Inc.’s Sport Illustrated has been showing advertisers three video-heavy ad prototypes, including one for a Ford Mustang that includes an arcade-style driving game using the tilt-and-turn capability of the iPad. With a few touches to the screen, readers can pick paint colors and wheel styles for cars they might want to buy.

“Some of the things you can do are just mind blowing,” says Steve Pacheco, FedEx’s director of advertising. “You are taking something that used to be flat on a page and making it interactive and have it jump off the page.”

Magazine publishers see the device as crucial to their future as they scour for new ways to make money, with print advertising still under threat. Digital advertising has been a disappointment for many publishers, but with the iPad they feel they have a technology that best marries the splashy look and size of a full-page print ad with the cool interactive features of a digital ad—and the ability to count how many people saw it.

As I’ve argued before, a pay for delivery model makes much more sense for advertisers when compared to a pay wall. Pay walls can severely hurt a publication’s popularity, as many users will not be interested in paying for content and most bloggers won’t link to a story behind a pay wall. But, I suspect many users will pay for the convenience of being able to download a beautifully laid out magazine on a device like the iPad. They’ll even pay for a black and white version on their Kindle. Imagine having all your favorite magazines loaded up on your device when you board your flight, along with the books you’ve been waiting to read.

These changes are inevitable, and I expect most publishers and large brand advertisers to jump on this trend.

Aaron Baar of Marketing Daily agrees that the iPad will be transformational for the publishing business.

Q: Is the iPad the savior of the publishing industry?

A: We do believe it will be transformational for newspaper and magazine publishers. Whether it will save the business or not is a different story, but we definitely think it will put a new face to the way consumers can actually interact with print content as well as advertising within print content. It kind of gives the industry a breath of fresh air.

The iPad “provokes” customer responses. Naturally, part of that is because the format os relatively new. But the interactive qualities will mean this effect will have considerable staying power.

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