NBC and McGraw have officially entered the fray: yesterday, the two met on the tube (no, not that one) to discuss nothing less than Apple’s new mobile platform. Rumouring has been stuffy in the last half decade surrounding what very well may debut today, and Terry McGraw, president of McGraw-Hill, elucidated the growing speculation that the iWhatever will run on iPhone OS and have ties with book publishers. 95% of McGraw-Hill’s content is available in some sort of eBook format. The platform should expand to include professional and higher educational materials and we can only speculate on subscription services.
I see this in a mostly positive light. On the one hand, electronifying books means dissemination to the masses – it is much easier for many to download via carrier plans or WiFi than to trek to a book store. eBooks can be carried by the thousands on one device rather than one or two hard copies. And with network support or proper OS integration, research tools can be integrated into the basic reader structure, making realtime research that much easier. I spend hours a day reading books from Jules Verne to Cory Doctorow and lately, some original Sherlock Holmes tales – I love eBooks.
But problems arise with ownership. Does a user who has paid an arbitrary sum own that material, or is it copy-protected? Can that book be loaned to a friend, read by others, or unlike a hardcopy, is sharing simply impossible without an extra layout of cash? If the latter, I am not interested. Users shouldn’t pay nearly the same amount for software which cannot be scribbled on, passed about, or truly owned.
Information shouldn’t be for lease: it should be purchasable or available to share freely. Fans of either system will line the streets, but certainly, it is time to think about content: users can no longer afford to let big companies distribute without regard for user interaction.
If you can’t get enough of Apple’s new mobile computing platform, you might enjoy a few articles below:
- iPad, iTablet, iSlate, iWish – Apple’s latest creation in pidjin
- Come see our latest creation… iTablet, iSlate? iPhone 4G?
- ITG xpPhone – when Windows mobile just ain’t enough
- iSlate dries up world’s supply of 10.1 inch OLED touch screens