Michael Grotticelli /
Originally featured on BroadcastEngineering.com
Apple’s iPad offers new competition for traditional broadcasters

Though Apple’s much-publicized iPad promises new life to print publications and offers a spectacular video display, it may mean new competition — especially in news — to traditional over-the-air broadcasters.

During last week’s news conference announcing the iPad, Apple turned the stage over to the “New York Times.” The publication showed a color version of its printed newspaper on the tablet with a major new enhancement: live video news clips embedded in the print pages. As the reader peruses a news story, a still image may be blown up to full screen or live video can be started from a still image with the tap of a finger.

At the Apple press conference in San Francisco on Wednesday, Jan. 27, the “Times” gave a powerful demonstration of the news of the future — the integration of rich text, color photography and live video. In effect, they combined the traditional newspaper and television news. “The Times” announced earlier in the week that it would charge readers on a metered rate for the new type of news service. Prices were not announced.

No broadcaster announced a news initiative with Apple's new computing device, though several newspapers said they were investigating it.

The Apple iPad, which will work wirelessly with WiFi and on 3G phone networks, offers video on a screen measuring about 10in. The device weighs only 1.5lbs and is .5in thick. The battery life is 10 hours. It can display video of thousands of television programs and movies from the iTunes store and display video programming directly off the Internet.

It can also display any of the 140,000 applications in the app store for Apple’s iPhone, including TV-related ones such as USA’s “Monk” or Fox’s “So You Think You Can Dance.”

Apple CEO Steve Jobs highlighted a high-definition clip of a surfing dog from YouTube and showed how users can watch and buy TV shows. “We have movies and TV shows and music videos, so I can go into a TV show like ‘Modern Family,’ click an episode and watch it,” he said. He then showed a clip from the feature film “Star Trek.”

Apple had wanted to announce a package of subscription television programming with the iPad but apparently could not get a consensus from the television networks and cable operators. Also, the Open Mobile Video Coalition, a new off-air mobile television service backed by broadcasters, was missing from the iPad announcement.

The multifunction iPad also is an e-book reader that will compete with Amazon’s market leader, the Kindle. The iPad bookstore is called “iBook” and is launching with five of the largest publishing houses, including the Hachette Book Group, Macmillan, Simon & Schuster, Penguin and HarperCollins. Books are visible on a full-color illustration of a bookshelf.

By combining text, video, audio and still photography, the iPad seeks to extend the book category into full multimedia publications. For example, a book about history can have embedded videos with text as well as still photos that can blow up to fill the screen.

Versions of the iPad can be placed on 3G networks at newly discounted prices. AT&T announced plans ranging from $15 for measured service to $30 a month for unlimited data service. The extra bandwidth needed for such a device means even higher demand for spectrum. The FCC has proposed taking some of this spectrum from broadcasters as part of its plan to free up bandwidth.

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