Thursday, April 8, 2010

The Real Impact of the iPad

I just spent an hour touring the iPad with my friend Evan, who is the CTO and Chief Digital Strategist at a big media and entertainment company. He is and always has been an Apple evangelist and his initial review of the iPad falls clearly on Walt Mossberg’s (glowing, "game changing") side of what has been a very partisan stream of reviews.

While I haven't spent enough time with the iPad to provide a review, nor will I ever be qualified to make a prediction on it's future success, there seems to be no doubt that just the introduction of this device is having a massive impact on the advertising and media distribution businesses. And that is what Evan and I chatted about after the tour.

Practically every significant brand in the world dedicated more resources to their mobile media strategy in advance of the launch of the iPad. And those that didn't, jumped in this week, feeling the pressure of a big race starting without them. The rich, multi-media interface of the iPad signals enormous potential opportunities for brands to connect with their customers like never before.

How to execute on this opportunity is the big question being asked in thousands of offices this week. Should brands dedicate resources to build an App and be held hostage to Apple's arbitrary approval approval process and over-crowded App Store or should they focus on developing a smart, mobile-friendly web site that can detect on the fly the best delivery format?

Meanwhile, magazines and newspapers see a whole new set of opportunities to break free of print's production, distribution and presentation restraints. Time Magazine's App is pretty stunning, providing the iconic magazine a completely new digital identity. But the same efficiencies and ease of market entry are available to all.

As Evan said, "the competition is now everyone."