Most days I stay away from making predictions, or giving people advice, but today is an exception. With the iPad about to ship, and the news industry on the ropes, it seems like a good time to put a stake in the ground, make a prediction, offer some advice.
But first a story... Back in 1981, I was an Apple developer and was among the first to get an IBM PC (it shipped that year). The PC was a great advance over what Apple had been offering. I called it a "big blank machine" because it had 640K memory and could host relatively large and inexpensive hard drives.
2. UCSD P-system -- a very popular system, largely because Apple was an early adopter. My software at the time, ThinkTank, was written to run under the P-system.
3. PC-DOS -- a new operating system created by Microsoft for IBM. At the time Microsoft wasn't a very big company. Apple was much larger, so was the publisher of the leading spreadsheet, and the publisher of the leading word processing software.
Even though I had made a huge investment in the P-system, and there were far more CP/M developers (there were zero PC-DOS developers), my first PC ran PC-DOS. I could have had my software running on the PC in hours, but I chose the slower route because I could tell, easily, which OS was going to win.
Now, in a way, a newspaper is to the iPad what the OS was to the IBM PC. The one that gets installed first is going to have a huge advantage over the ones that come second or third. A newspaper is an advertising platform, and the iPad probably will be a hot reading platform, and the apps (ads) will seek out the hot newspaper the same way guys like me bet on PC-DOS and ignored CP/M and UCSD.
PS: Remember yesterday's story about the quarterback. ">