What I Hope Will be in the Apple Tablet

It’s official. Apple’s releasing something next week; maybe the table computer that’s going to revolutionize everything.  Lots of people have speculated as to what’s going to be in it.  A lot of people expect that it might save journalism and media.

Let’s speculate about how it might save journalism (or your industry of choice).  It’s going to have to provide a great experience that’s fundamentally different from how it works today (check out this Sports Illustrated mock for one hypothesis).  However, I think it’s going to have to make it really easy to pay for this content, too.  Ads alone aren’t keeping these folks in business, so a new format alone (which is just more ad inventory) isn’t going to be enough.

So what could this mean?  Well, imagine a monthly subscription to all New York Times content – across your tablet, iPhone and the web – with the first 100 articles or so free.

Similarly, right now it’s tough to do subscriptions for an iPhone app.  You have to put the app in the store and then the subscription occurs within the app (e.g., it sells for $0.99 in the store but then it’s $9.99/month within the app to use it).  I’m hoping that with the tablet, Apple will continue switching the store to allow transparent per month pricing at the time of purchase, with a free trial.

Ideally, two things come out of the tablet:

  1. New ways to convince users to subscribe to content.  Ideally, providing a ubiquitous payment system that works across all digital channels
  2. An improvement to subscription pricing in the iTunes store

These sound totally banal, but if this happens it will suddenly be financially viable for a whole new type of software to be developed for the iPhone.  Apple can build its mobile lead and really revolutionize a lot more than just journalism.