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A Conversation with Ned May of Outsell on the Apple Tablet

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So tomorrow is the big day for Apple, Jobs and yes, even the rest of us. Why? Well, if you have not heard by now - tomorrow at the Yerba Buena Center in California, Jobs will be announcing that "one more thing!" The Apple fan boys and even the naysayers are anticipating the announcement of the Apple Tablet. I don't think that there has been this much anticipation since the first gen iPhone back in 2007. In an effort to get a deeper insight on this phenomenon I spoke with Ned May of Outsell.

Outsell is a research and advisory firm that focuses on the publishing and information content industry. Outsell employs analysts and researchers who create, package, and evaluate companies and markets involved. Its products and services provide analysis of events and trends that affect the information industry. Clients can access its database of more than 7,000 companies, which includes a wide variety of metrics such as market size, revenue, geographic segmentation, and market share.

May is Director and Lead Analyst at Outsell. His specialty is Search, Aggregation & the Syndication market. Ned's perspective on the Tablet is unique. His focus is less on the technology and more on the content being serviced by the Apple Tablet. Ned explains that the Tablet stands to change content consumption. Until we understand the full breadth of what content will be available on Wednesday, Ned explains for now - all we have is a vision. The dream is a full media consumption device. This is where old media - professional books, text books, magazines and news papers will all be available.  We are not talking about 16 shades of grey with a resolution of 600 x 800. We are looking at a 10 inch color screen that supports a resolution of 1920 × 1080.  You now pair that with WiFi and 3G connectivity and old media becomes a dynamic publication that is updated in near real time.

I asked Ned if Apple changes the eReader market - tomorrow. He explains that it may be a possibility. "The company is so good at designing user interfaces that it should never be ruled out. But with the iPod and the iPhone, a superior UI was just one of the advantages Apple brought. Its iTunes distribution channel also played a major part in its success, and that approach has now been replicated many times over with ebooks - even Sony now has its own digital bookstore."

The discussion then turns to what all publishers are most concerned about - revenue streams. Ned explains that publishers need to participate and take back control. The Internet has been a disruptive force to the publishing industry. It has reshaped how content is consumed. It is no longer necessary to purchase newspapers and magazines - you can get the same information from sources like the Huffington Post or other online resources. Publishers have not figured out how to monetize content on the web. The Apple Tablet stands to fix this issue - publishers can place their content on the Tablet and add services to make it worth the purchase.

It would appear that the publishing industry is depending on Jobs to give them back that control. This control will be in the form of the iTunes distribution and revenue models. "The Apple App Store is expected to generate an estimated $1.4 billion this year," according to an analysis by Piper Jaffray. Who would not want a piece of that financial action?

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