Blog by an Apple Certified Tech

iPad the latest wave of knowledge flow

Steve Jobs brought us all to a standstill when he unveiled Apple’s new tablet PC, the iPad. Multi-media functionality, eBook support, eReader software and the iBookstore confirm that Apple is jumping into the eBook market with both feet.
But what does the iPad mean for publishers?
From what’s currently known, we suggest there are four important implications:

1) Building iBooks: ePub
Steve Jobs explicitly stated that the iPad will use the free and open eBook format standard − ePub. This is a surprising but welcome move for Apple to embrace a non-proprietary media format − and terrific news for the publishing industry. It will make it easy for publishers who have already adopted ePub to capitalize on the iPad and realize an even greater return on investment. We are already working with many of you to produce ePub content and are preparing for significant growth in volume ahead of the iPad’s release.
However, it’s important to note that while ePub is a widely accepted standard, the quality of the output still greatly depends on the form factor of the target device. As soon as the iPad is available we will be undertaking extensive testing to understand the impact of its dimensions on output as compared to the iPhone, iTouch, Kindle, Sony Reader, etc.
The ePub standard will likely need to be updated to allow publishers to create more detailed layouts and attach various types of multimedia supported by the iPad. The International Digital Publishing Forum (IDPF) has announced that it will start work this year on an updated version. The question is whether the standard will drive the industry or vice versa.

2) Building iBooks: Color vs. E-Ink
The iPad includes a color display, whereas most eBooks to date have been created for E-Ink readers that support only greyscale. To help reduce production times for the iPad and other color devices, Develoopment organizations have been working closely with resellers and publishers on the introduction of quality color graphics. Our standard eBook production process ensures that graphics and images are built and embedded in color to allow for simultaneous delivery to E-Ink based eReaders and color devices like the iPad.

3) Protecting iBooks: DRM
It appears that Apple will be implementing their own DRM to secure ePub files, which would presumably then be distributed through iBooks (iTunes for books). This could eliminate the need for a DRM middleman and result in a more streamlined eBook model.
On the other hand, the application of a proprietary DRM would limit delivery only through iBooks and limit reading only on an iPad, thus undermining the publishing industry’s effort to make eBooks accessible across multiple eReaders. The end result will likely either be consumer confusion and frustration − or extreme consumer loyalty to a single eReader.
Barnes & Noble and Amazon have attempted to maintain their market positions and customers by developing eReader applications for the iPad. In essence, they are extending their storefronts from their own proprietary devices to the iPad, in hopes that they will keep current customers who adopt the iPad, in addition to reaping some share of new customers who have been attracted by the device.

4) Distributing iBooks: The iBookstore
Apple is introducing their own iBookstore, which is expected to mean changes in how publishers deal with all eBook sellers in the future, not just Apple. We are already seeing how Apple’s pricing model is adversely impacting Amazon, as publishers push to adopt a new pricing strategy that is far more favorable.
It appears that Apple’s iPad can provide a one-stop-shop solution to content publishers through their online store, reader software and DRM − which can only serve to simplify mobile content delivery.
And undoubtedly one of the most promising aspects of the iPad announcement is the impending growth in size and scope of the eBook market − thanks to the power of the Apple brand.
Develoopment organizations are in the process of examining the iPad SDK (software development kit) to fully understand the iPad’s impact on eBook applications. We will keep you updated as our evaluation continues and we have more information to share.