The iPad hype is in full swing. Anybody who checks Techmeme on a daily basis, for instance, will be intimately familiar with the latest iPad news and rumors.
While initial analyst indications are that the iPad is going to rock and roll, it's still too early to say if it will truly live up to the hype long-term. But that doesn't mean it's too early to declare that it has done something remarkable because that it has. What has it done? Inspired stodgy old industries.
Consider how the following industries are getting involved with the iPad:
- Print publishing. Newspapers, magazines and book publishers are all gearing up for the iPad. That's remarkable for one reason: these are, for the most part, entities that have resisted technological change even in the face of overwhelming evidence that said change was not only an existential threat to their businesses, but a huge opportunity. Whether or not these groups capitalize on the iPad is irrelevant; the mere fact that they're trying to be out in front of a new technology is a big step in the right direction.
- Advertising. Media buyers often take a wait and see approach when it comes to new technologies, and they usually dip their toes using experimental budgets before they back up the Brinks trucks. But they've been eager to snap up iPad-specific ad inventory before any iPad-specific ad inventory exists. And they're shelling out big bucks to boot. Perhaps this will prove to have little meaning in the overall scheme of things, but the willingness of major advertisers to buy into a new device/technology before it is proven just might give a little hope to all the media sellers who have ever been tasked with the less-than-enthralling prospect of moving non-traditional ads and unconventional inventory.
- Education. Technology's impact on education has been significant, but that doesn't mean that educational institutions have fully maximized its use. So it's interesting that Seton Hill University has announced a plan to give each incoming freshman an iPad. George Fox University is also giving its students a choice between an iPad and a MacBook. Obviously, making full use of technology to teach more effectively goes beyond giving students an iPad but the fact that universities are clearly thinking about how the educational experience of students can be enhanced by the iPad demonstrates that the new device is sparking some creativity amongst educators.
Needless to say, it would be naive for any of these groups, especially struggling print publishers, to expect the iPad to deliver miracles. But the fact that so many stodgy old industries are trying to catch the iPad train before it leaves the station is a positive sign. It shows that, for whatever reason, these industries have finally found a potential tech innovation that has given them permission to believe. Instead of fighting the future, they're trying to embrace it. That's a good thing, not only for these industries, but for the iPad itself.
That's because while Apple and Steve Jobs may not need any help in making the iPad successful, the iPad arguably has far greater potential than some skeptics (myself included) initially believed now that it is being built up by industries that are more used to fighting innovation than creating it. Let's just hope that Apple will recognize it's in its best interest to ensure that these industries are in a position to reap a fair share of the rewards.
Photo credit: mattbuchanan via Flickr.