"People Don't Read Anymore"
So said Apple's Steve Jobs earlier this week. I don't doubt the various surveys and reports that show adults are reading fewer books these days, but I would contend that overall, most are reading more content; much of that is online, of course, in the form of articles, blogs, etc. Using myself as an example, I read about the same number of books per year that I have for the past few years, but I find myself inundated with RSS feeds and other sources that I struggle to keep up with.
Jobs was making the point that it would be silly for Apple to produce an e-book device. As he put it, "the whole conception is flawed at the top because people don’t read anymore." Didn't he also downplay the attractiveness of the cellphone market not too long ago, and then the iPhone appeared? I'm not suggesting Apple has some e-book device in the works, but it's interesting to look back at these kind of statements.
More importantly, I think any e-book device that is strictly built for books is flawed. This model needs to focus on content, not books. While the Kindle is mainly an e-book device, Amazon was smart enough to enable it in other ways so that it can do more than just serve up a digital book. And that's just Kindle Version 1.0.
Regardless of whether the ultimate market share winner is Amazon, Apple or someone else, this sort of device needs to serve the needs of all content acquisition and consumption, not just books. Beyond books and magazines, the vision should be that this device is your go-to, read/write tool for blogs and all social networks, for example. That sounds like a laptop, doesn't it? Well, if someone can create an ultra-thin laptop with e-ink technology and a great e-content fulfillment service behind it, they might just have something there...
Does Steve Jobs remind anyone else of Bill Belichick? Obviously on top of the world in his own way, but standoffish & grumpy, only willing to acknowledge what he sees as right in the world, sloppy dresser...
If people don't read anymore, why was there a Blounge for bloggers at Macworld? Who are those people blogging for? And don't people with Macs get online and (gasp!) READ?
Posted by: Jason Marcuson | January 17, 2008 at 03:52 PM
I agree - Jobs is off the mark here. People do read, but they are not reading traditional media (books, publications) as much as the new media (online content). There is definitely a paradigm shift emerging here and the market winner will be the company who develops an all in one content reader for all forms of communications at the right size, the right price with long battery life, ease of use and convenience.
Posted by: Anthony S. Policastro | January 18, 2008 at 09:31 AM
Don't listen to the naysayers!
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Posted by: Wayne C. Long | January 26, 2008 at 11:49 PM