Thursday, January 28, 2010


Matt Kelly: digital content director, Mirror Group

Is that it then? A bloody great iPhone? If any newspaper publishers out hoped the iWhatsit would be the missing link between digital investment and reward, the sight of Steve Jobs lazily stroking his big touchscreen while muttering "awesome" and "incredible" and "wonderful" will have come as a blow.

Just like the Amazon Kindle (another touted saviour of newspapers) at first glance, the iPad is a little underwhelming. Unlike the Kindle (when we at the Mirror were presented it, the Amazon rep told us to "please stop prodding the screen. You might break it") this is at least a thing of beauty. But I see shortcomings.

The reason my laptop has a lid is so the screen doesn't get wrecked after a couple of months – like the screen of my, er, iPhone. I can stick my iPhone in my pocket when I leave the house. Where does one stick the iPad? What do you do when it rains?

There are certain parts of the UK where it's not best advised to prance about with 500 quids worth of shiny new tech. No one ever mugged anyone for a copy of the Mirror. Also, should you drop your Mirror in a puddle, or leave it on the bus, you can replace it at any number of locations for just 45p.

One more gripe. All those lovely Apps we've built – the Guardian's brilliant newspaper one and our forthcoming app to name but two – will need redesigning. Great! Yet another format to develop.

No. The iPad is no great leap forward for newspapers. But something inside it may be. Apple's great contribution to shining light on how we may start directly charging for content is their App Store.

Emulating their elegant, frictionless, payment solution is, to my mind, the single biggest challenge we face at the beginnings of our digital future. The challenge to turn millions of users into customers.

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