Apple Ships iPad, Advertisers Hold Breath
Apple is expected to ship the first of its iPads to US customers this weekend, hailed by many as a game changer. But what impact will it really have? Sandwiched between eReaders like the Kindle and cheaper laptops, it is expected to be a powerful tool for reaching engaged, quality, tech-savvy audiences, though some say the device is only popular because of the cult-like power of Apple.
Nevertheless, the iPad is already impacting the way the web works, due to its lack of Flash capabilities, which Apple omitted due to the programme’s “buggy performance” and its propensity for crashing Apple’s OS X operating system. Apple is punching above its weight as companies change their systems to accommodate one product. Last week, Brightcove adjusted its video service specifically for flash-incompatible iPads, serving content through HTML5 Player instead. It will also offer content for iPhones through Quicktime. The iPad is also reshaping the ineternet due to its larger screen size – which means companies do not have to create mobile versions of their websites. Instead, the larger dimensions allow existing sites to be displayed, which is resulting in simplified layouts, a shift away from proprietary formats and easy navigation.
But the iPad’s biggest impact is expected to be seen in publishing, where electronic versions of publications have excited advertisers and resulted in lucrative ad deals which are breathing new life into the stagnating industry. At launch in the US this week, the Wall Street Journal will be available for $17.99 a month, or $215 a year – compared to $140 for a subscription to the paper and online versions of the title. On top of this, the WSJ has secured Capital One, Buick, Oracle, iShares and FedEx as advertisers. The New York Times has a 60-day exclusive sponsorship deal with credit card firm Chase Sapphire.
But what of the impact on advertising? So far, so very little. Mobile ad network Greystripe has developed a programme that converts flash-based ads into a format the iPad can understand, giving advertisers more control over the way their ads look across a range of devices. Although it is still too early for new ad formats to emerge, that may all change next week, when Apple is expected to announce the launch of its own mobile ad serving system, which has been developed following the acquisition of mobile ad developer Quattro in January. Few details have been leaked, but there is much speculation the system will pitch Apple directly against Google, which owns the patent for serving location-based ads on mobile devices.
Despite the lack of information, one thing is clear – interest in the mobile sector is only going to grow as devices become ever more sophisticated, and the wider population gains access to the mobile internet. Apple will see more competition next year as seven similar devices from HP, Dell and a range of cheaper Asian brands will come onto the market, creating an even more compelling reason for brands to get involved as the audience grows.