The big “what if”: Microsoft’s tablet efforts may be for naught, but success would require adjustments to publisher and vendor app plans
While the tech media world continues to make its predictions about the Microsoft Surface tablet, it would be nice to think that media executives have been paying attention, doing their own calculations about whether the Redmond software giant can succeed in the tablet market, and what impact that would make on their own digital media efforts. But, honestly, I doubt many media execs are paying that much attention.
For decades, the pace of change in media technology was glacial. The move from hot type to cold was seen as revolutionary, yet it took place over a long period of time, with newspapers and magazines able to slowly transition from one to the other.
Even the growth of the web, seemingly an earthquake in the media world, was a fairly slow event. The first time I recognized that the web would impact newspapers was in 1993 when AOL 2.0 for Mac was launched – that got my attention. But the first website for the New York Times did not launch until the end of 1996, and the first site for the Chicago Tribune appeared two years after that.
Think about how different the digital media landscape is today: the first NYT mobile app for the iPhone launched soon after Apple began to allow third party apps. The first NYT iPad app launched the same day as the iPad.
One of the reasons for this is simply that Apple wanted media partners. Despite the nonsense written by the ‘digital first’ crowd, Apple has always worked with media partners in order to insure their products are launched with worthwhile content (even if those partners didn’t always like the terms of the relationship).
Media executives today, though, had best be up to speed in the changing landscape of technology. For most, the thought of having to build products for yet another tablet platform (Windows) is not attractive – and I can certainly understand that. But most media companies, knowing that Apple and Google are directing the growth of the tablet platforms are not even registered Apple or Android developers – choosing to outsource that work to others. How many of these have experience developing in the Windows environment?
The good news for those who depend on their digital media vendors is that many of these understand that their clients will want a presence on any device that is successful in the market. Porting over their production solutions may not be a monumental task.
But one media pro asked me this morning what he thought he should be telling his own boss about the new Microsoft tablet. My answer was “how do you feel about how well your company is currently positioned to develop for iOS?” His answer was an abrupt “we’re nowhere”. At least he was being honest, and it made the question of another new platform pretty irrelevant.