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Summary:

Apple’s competitors are likely circling the wagons and preparing for quite the fight when the iPad drops late next month. Amazon has been highlighted as the company with the most to worry about in many of the articles written about the subject thus far, but Microsoft […]

Apple’s competitors are likely circling the wagons and preparing for quite the fight when the iPad drops late next month. Amazon has been highlighted as the company with the most to worry about in many of the articles written about the subject thus far, but Microsoft is probably also sufficiently nervous about the effect the device will have on things like netbook sales.

Google is the one with the most to worry about, though, according to a new report (subscription required) posted at GigaOM Pro. Google does have a significant interest in the netbook market, like Microsoft, thanks to its upcoming Google Chrome OS, but that isn’t the reason they need to be scared. The real reason is the demise of the web.

Paul Sweeting, in the GigaOM Pro piece, contends that the reason the iPad poses such a threat to Google is that it rewrites the rules of content delivery, eliminating the avenues through which Google makes money via search and advertising. As I’ve written about elsewhere, Apple’s aim is clearly to control not only the content that appears on its devices, but also the conduits by which that content arrives.

Apple promotes a tunnel vision version of the Internet, with content funneled, separated and kept specific to the app you happen to be using. It’s a cellular model of consuming Internet-based content, and it is attractive to the consumer in the same way a walled Japanese garden is attractive to the appreciator of nature. The garden is safe, predictable, contained and aesthetically pleasing. Raw nature can be all of these things, too, but it isn’t necessarily so all of the time.

My only question, and the one which Sweeting poses without asking directly is, is that something I want to happen as a consumer of media? Do we want to “settle” the web, so to speak, by allowing Apple to pacify it, distill it, and then sell it back to us through tightly controlled channels? It may seem alarmist, but it isn’t. It’s what Apple has to do to grow its consumer base as a mobile device maker.

In an ideal world, from Apple’s perspective, Cupertino would have exclusive control over all major media distribution. The company desires that, or as close as is possible in the real world, because by controlling the distribution of content they can also control which devices consumers have to use to consume it. That, in turn, means hardware sales.

It sounds bleak, but it might not be all bad. Apple seems committed to providing quality content in innovative ways, so maybe handing them more control is the right move. What do you think? Is convenience, ease of use and quality of finish worth the trade-off required in terms of autonomy?

Read the full report over at GigaOM Pro →

  1. I really fail to see how the iPad threatens the preeexisting standards for content-delivery any more than the iPhone and the iPod Touch already have. I just don’t think the tablet is designed to be a replacement for our desktop and laptop workstations; I think it is rather a supplement.

    For instance having the ability to finish an article in a comfy lounge chair without burning your knees or stretching a power cable across the living room. The iPad certainly offers new possibilities for content-delivery, but until it has the power to be a standalone device, I don’t see it as a threat to the net as we know it.

    When they start making it without the 30-pin dock connector, I’ll start getting concerned. I’m starting to wonder if everyone’s concern over what it will do to the Internet (especially given its lack of Flash support) has more to do with losing advertising revenue from banner and sidebar ads that rely on Flash for much of their visibility and appeal.

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    1. well the one new thing they will control is ebooks in to portable device(that is if you have an ipad) they had not done this in the iphone or ipod.

      and as far as flash it is the lost of money, but not from adds, it the loss of money if apple introduces flash in the ipad/ipod/iphone because it would crush the app store. meaning that if my application gets rejected i can create a flash and put it on the web and completely bypass the app store.
      then no revenue for apple and i can charge on my own for my application.

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    2. Ian,
      I don’t think people have taken into account how hard it is to key on a flat surface, on your lap looking down. It will essentially be the peck style as with the itouch until people are used to a keyboard with no tactile feedback. I still miss the home postion on occasion after 20 years of using convential keyboards.
      Sounds like a lot of neck strain to actually key anything of any volume.
      The cable across the room comment. Umm, actually many netbooks have the same 10 hour (maximum, not really doing anything) and if not, like my Wifes’ HP 311 mini, which is wonderful with full windows 7 home premium at your fingertips at 2 to 3 lbs and 11.6″ of perfect wide screen space, the usually have a 6 or 8 hour battery. No points for the tablet with power.
      Reading is not going to be as enjoyable as with a device with E-ink technology. The Kindle app on my Wife’s itouch is ok, but reading on a regular screen, no matter how nice the font, is still a strain on the eyes and can’t compare to a dedicated device that has less eye strain than an actual book. My kindle is perfect and I love it.
      I don’t think this device will find the market and momentum the iphone did. We’ll see…
      oh, Apple seems to be willing to give up itouch sales for this. I wonder why they created something that competes with their own product. Right on the Apple website under the ipad, design, safari, is states you can view web pages a full page at a time “as they are meant to be viewed” and then further it says it makes web pages “actually readable” obviously referring to small devices like it’s own itouch.
      Well, this is a non true multi-tasking large itouch, so I suppose those with the $$ will want both. I don’t see that.
      Jerry

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  2. I disagree, my use of Google is extensive on my iPhone and while we do not view PPC ads most of the time when I am using a portable device I am not going to even consider click-through on PPC ads. The iPad will obviously be far more efficient of a web browser and I personally feel that google will be able to compete with their Chrome OS. After all they make the only phone I would consider using over an iPhone and they are a progressive enough company to develop reasonable alternatives to something like the iPad. My biggest skepticism on the iPad is when comparing it to a kindle. I have been using the Kindle 2 since its release and can honestly say I find the text on it easier to read than even a paper book it is super crisp and clear. Even with a gorgeous IPS panel my eyes still feel like they got beat up at the end of the day so that is a big minus for me and the “ebook” features of the iPad. Yes, the iPad is going to do things the Kindle simply cannot but I see its ultimate role as a web browser and a media device or fitting the needs of someone who doesn’t want to put out the money for a MacBook and only requires processing power enough to consume content not create it.

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    1. Yes, But you use Google only because Apple lets you. You must use apps from the app store to do anything on an iThing. Nothing is allowed to run on iThings unless it comes from and is “approved” by Apple.

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  3. Please stop talking about the iPad and the things will do. Lets wait first to see it and use it and then next year we all can talk about the wonders of it. We dont have it and we dont ever see it until Apple is ready. Today rumors has it that verizon will sell it also so, please shut up and wait for it damn it!

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  4. These are totally unsupported claims… Apple isn’t controlling the internet, except for things coming through the iTunes store… And there’s a lot more than that store that you can access through your iPhone.
    This just sounds like a round-the-back complaint about the lack of Flash. Another Hulu crybaby, perhaps?
    I have no problem getting any content I want onto my iPhone without the use of Flash, or the iTunes store.
    I have no problem visiting any website I want with my iPhone… Apple isn’t selling the internet back to me, or controlling it… They just aren’t spending their time, getting their devices to support buggy, shoddy, crash-causing Flash. Get over it.
    If you want Flash, and open-source everything, go get an Android phone.

    The real issue is, 90% of people want access to media to be easy because they are not tech-savvy, DVD-ripping, bittorrent-using, super-nerds… they are normal people with too little time to waste figuring stuff out. Apple is providing this ease of use and ease of access to media in a way that NO one else is! They are the only company out there, with the products, the interface, and the content all working together and playing nice… To compete, someone else is going to have to figure out how to give most people what they really want better than Apple… and I bet that isn’t going to happen anytime soon, because most tech companies (like most tech bloggers) still only think about that tech-savvy 10% when deciding what “most people” want.

    For us nerds, the internet is still free, and if you want it to be, Apple-free… but why would you want it to be that difficult?

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    1. Guess you celebrate xmas @ dec 24, and jobxmas @ feb 24.

      Both r born in a 24 day of the month. Coincidence? You be the judges!

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  5. I’m not sure how we jump from a device that supports an open browser and HTML 5 / H.264 to the boogieman of a cable television “walled garden”. Apple is enabling a paid content model for music, video, and now text because: that content has value, the owners of the content want to get paid for it, consumers are willing to pay for it, and Apple likes taking their cut as a middleman.

    Apple is not forcing that model on anyone, nor are they insisting on exclusivity. The browser is still there. The Kindle app is still there. What Apple is trying to do is to execute that model so perfectly that people prefer it to other options, even free ones. So far, Apple is doing a pretty good job.

    The cable TV model of a “walled garden” is coercive. The whole idea of creating a walled garden in media is that customers can’t get to any other alternatives. It’s like living in the company town. If you want to eat, you buy your groceries at the company store.

    Any attempt to paint Apple with that brush falls short.

    The closest you could come is Apple’s spat with Google over Google Voice. It looks like Apple has now decided to allow VoIP over G3. No word, however, on whether the Google Voice app has been approved.

    No matter what, it’s clear that Google Voice is a communications service that is directly competitive with some of the core value proposition of the iPhone. Agree with Apple’s decision to banish it or not, keeping Google Voice out is fundamentally different than building a walled garden for media.

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    1. The walled garden is actually a good comparison because the iPad primarily seems to be an iStore. You can get music on it (if you buy it on iTunes). You can get books on it (if you buy them in the iBook store). You can get movies on it (if you buy them in iTunes) and you can get apps on it (buying them in the App store).

      HTML5 may be supported but web video sure isn’t. It’s only through the youtube app (which is controlled by apple) that we can see some youtube videos.

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    2. Henk, You can purchase music from Amazon that works fine in iTunes. You can play movies not purchased from Apple. You need to get the correct information before you make everyone think you are stupid… Oops, too late!

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    3. Actually, Google Voice now works on the iPhone via an HTML5 web interface; no app required ;) Would assume it’ll work on the iPad too

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  6. Another totally BS article from Darrell. Has he ever written anything that’s worth reading? Why is it that so many writers come and go on this site, and the worst one remains?

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  7. “Apple promotes a tunnel vision version of the Internet, with content funneled, separated and kept specific to the app you happen to be using. It’s a cellular model of consuming Internet-based content, and it is attractive to the consumer in the same way a walled Japanese garden is attractive to the appreciator of nature.”

    I totally disagree with this statement. Apple does not do anything like this! If they did, why would they include a web browser with the iPad/iPhone/iPod touch? If you’re referring to the lack of Flash, get over it. Flash is clunky, and out dated. It needs to be killed off by a better standard.

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  8. Just a little too much FUD in this story for my tastes.

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  9. Just because it has a standard web browser does not mean the iPad (and Apple) aren’t funneling the internet, or at least moving in that direction. I think what the article is getting at is that content delivery would be done through applications vs. a browser. It seems that none of you that commented disagreements realized the point. As an iphone and ipod touch owner, one of the few things I thought the iPad would be useful for is running iphone OS apps on a larger display. For anyone that owns an iphone and uses sites like facebook, twitter, craigslist, myspace as a few examples, knows that if they have the app for it, that’s the method of delivery they are going to choose over the phone browser. Apple is offering it, and we are going to take it if it gives us a better experience. The article isn’t saying Apple is the big bad man for doing it, it is saying they are pushing in that direction because they can offer a better experience and make some cash off of it.

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    1. So Apple is giving users a choice. What is wrong with that? Isn’t choice good?

      If that is what Darrell is trying to say then he is a terrible writer.

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  10. The movement of funneling the internet is a good thing and has been going on for a long time. As the internet still grows so does the need for dedicated medias.

    Imaging Facebook running as a year 2000 website. Could not be done, the amount of info is staggering, now imaging having to access Facebook only by the mobile safari browser on the iPhone, again, it would quickly get tiresome. Hence the Facebook app.

    I don’t think Apple want’s to control the internet, I think Apple want’s to implement the “model-view-controller” pattern to the whole thing.

    Keep all the data in a huge pile (the internet) control how they should be presented and react to user queries (iTunes, App store, iBook, Safari…..) and present the data to fit the users View (iPad, iPod, Mac….).

    Google is more like: “here is a one-point access to all the data you can eat, forever!”.
    Apple is more like: “here are snippets we deem relevant for what you are doing right now”.

    Both ideologies are equally good in my point of view, but only one of them can be ported to hardware ranging from 1 to 1000 inch displays and CPU’s ranging from 500 MHz to 5GHz… guess who builds hardware;)

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