The iPad meme has evolved from distant rumor to growing buzz to unveiling to long-winded promises, but so far has yet to materialize anything substantial. Yes, it has been anointed as the savior of the publishing world — and huge publishers like Hearst, Condé Nast, Time Inc and the New York Times are praying the messiah is real — but only time will tell if it can resuscitate an entire industry. Now I’m not one of those haters that say it’s just an oversized iPhone — its clearly so much more — but the question remains if enough people will buy the iPad to make a real difference. After all, it is a niche-filler settling in somewhere between a netbook and an iPhone, so only the truly dedicated (or wealthy) will be able to play ball. And even if you do own an iPad, will you be willing to pay $5 an issue for something you presently get free (ie online content)? It’s no wonder some have already declared it a letdown, while others choose to wait until Apple and Adobe get on the same page to begin creating content. Well finally some real news: Condé Nast announced they will be launching apps for several of their heavyweight titles soon: GQ will launch in May, Vanity Fair and Wired in June, and The New Yorker and Glamour will be seeing daylight this summer. Meanwhile, the first true high end fashion magazine to enter the fray will be Interview — which shouldn’t surprise, really, as Interview has been an avant garde force in the publishing world since Andy Warhol launched it in 1969. Its April issue, with Carey Mulligan gracing the cover, will be available for 99 cents this Saturday (April 3), the day the iPad officially launches, and will feature more than 330 screens of dynamic images and interviews and nearly 20 minutes of exclusive video and audio content. This is what can make the iPad a game changer: its ability to take a the magazine to the next level, offering its readers immersive, quality content such as videos, musical mixes, hotlinks and all the bells and whistles of the worldwide web. No, we don’t know if the iPad can save publishing — that’s too great a task for any gadget to burden itself with single-handedly — but it certainly promises to have quite an effect on those with the courage and innovation to use it to its full potential.
...but can the iPad really save the publishing industry?