Here’s how things work: yesterday, Paramount Pictures announced they’re going to make downloads of feature films available via iTunes. In other news, Apple changed its name and announced the long-anticipated iPhone. Lightbulb, on. Bad timing, Paramount. Great news, book industry.
Omigosh, you’re saying, cellphone? Books? Hello? Apples, oranges, dropped calls, excessive fees, itty bitty screens.
Okay, the following is mostly fantasy. But fantasy based on solid science. As we know it*. In addition to an exclusive deal with Cingular (‘nother story, ‘nother day), the iPhone does stuff like surf the web, play media files, and make phone calls (a key feature in a phone). The iPhone also features a surprisingly large screen, and has the ability to automatically change the screen orientation when a user turns it sideways. At 3.5 inches it seems suspiciously perfect for reading.
Our technology expert informs us that iPhone runs on Mac OSX (the same OSX that can generate and read PDF files at the drop of a hat) and can connect to the Internet using any standard WiFi network. As in, you can connect to your own or other open wireless networks, thereby bypassing Cingular’s expensive data transfer fees. You can freely roam the web using a special version of the Safari browser. Sure, it’s not our browser of choice, but let’s remember that when we’re talking about the future of the world, compromises must be made.
We’ve noted in posts past that that an unheralded feature of the iTunes store is the ability to serve up PDF files. Go back and read that sentence again because one key element of the iPhone is its tight integration with iTunes (in retrospect, woefully misnamed). See, if you can browse the web and use iTunes, you can, theoretically, download PDF files. Not a heralded feature, but we have faith in Steve Jobs and his design team.
In other words, you can read lengthy texts. Articles. Short stories. Novellas. Books. Compendiums. On your cell phone/miniature computer/portable media player/killer device.
Setting aside the comfort issues, the iPhone could either kill the nascent e-reader business or take it to new levels. We’ve been saying just about forever that the problem with dedicated e-reader is the fact that the consumer isn’t seeking a device that does only one thing. With its “smart” orientation features, the iPhone could usher in the mass market e-book era.
Are you as excited as we are? Really, are you tingling? You should be. In a good way.
Think about it. Text, high resolution graphics, wireless Internet access, single device. So many readers used the Palm interface to read books…and they were really a fraction of the possible audience. The iPhone, more than any device, fulfills the promise of the future. It is the one thing that the publishing industry has desired and needed.
Please, publishing industry, don’t screw this up. You need this device more than it needs you. We did a poll of five people. They’re all buying this device. They can read.
* – Our chem lab partner spent our entire, well, chem class out with mono. We didn’t learn a thing.