With its preview Tuesday of the iPhone 3.0 (OS and SDK), Apple ratcheted up the pressure on not only its competitors in the smartphone business, but I believe, in a weird backwards sort of way, that the preview will put pressure on a few folks in the media industry.
In particular, publishers, especially newspaper and magazine publishers, if you aren’t already developing or at least understanding, in detail, what the iPhone means to your sector, you will be feeling the pressure soon. (For details on the new functionality, head over to Apple’s website.)
I’m thinking this because among the 1,000-plus new APIs being released in the new SDK for iPhone 3.0 are an in-app purchase capability that will enable a publisher’s developers, for example, to offer subscription content, or sell new content or sell upgrades of features to their iPhone (or iPod Touch) applications and have payments processed by the iTunes Store. For example, a magazine or newspaper could offer an iPhone application as a paid-subscription offering; a book publisher could sell a generic “reader” application and sell multiple titles; a game developer could sell new levels to her game.
Another important potential enabled by iPhone 3.0 is that developers will be able to support HTTP audio and video streaming in their apps, making for an interesting capability for newspaper, magazine or book publishers looking to extend video and audio content capabilities in iPhone applications.
Now, I know what you’re thinking, “But Mike, it’s the iPhone – not all of our readership has one and not all want to deal with the paper on a mobile phone at all.” To which I reply, yes, it’s the iPhone and that’s exactly why you should be working it (not everyone has one) and pretty soon big chunks of what you think should be your readers will only read news content on a mobile phone. As much as anything, I think newspaper and magazine publishers should be researching and testing their future mobile offerings on the iPhone SDK is that my discussions with developers of many kinds of apps is that it’s fairly easy to deal with. Now, for some developers “easy to deal with” means not comprehensive. But for newspaper magazine publishers, I think the iPhone and Touch platforms are setting the bar for content interactivity on mobile devices. As important: working on the iPhone and 3.0 can get you entre into the App Store (assuming Apple approves it…)
About the AppStore … A colleague of mine, who shall remain nameless, was somewhat taken aback by the the fact that Apple keeps 30 percent of the take from each application sold on the AppStore. Apple argues that for that 30 percent, a developer gets into a crowded store (25,000 applications) that has generated 800 million downloads since it launched in July. Apple does cover credit card costs and bandwidth and all that. And they pay out to developers monthly. So, yeah, it’s 30 percent but maybe when you balance that against what the cost-of-sales would be for having to sell it through your own website or a distributor, it might not be that bad.
Other key feaures for 3.0:
- For consumers, iPhone 3.0 will finally deliver cut, copy and paste which will work across iPhone’s standard applications like e-mail, the notes applications as well as web content. (Looks to be a series of double taps on the screen to manipulate. Oh, and because they’re Apple, one can “undo” a cut and paste by just shaking the phone, which is cool but probably not the main justification for the accelerometer.)
- Peer-to-peer device discovery: app developers and game developers can create new modes of application sharing and game play by enabling Touch or iPhone users to link their devices via Bluetooth (but without requiring the pairing mode).
- Landscape mode for all standard iPhone applications: finally. With 3.0, the iPhone’s e-mail, SMS and notes applications will be able to operate in landscape mode. Like I said, finally. For me personally, this was more of a drag than not having cut and paste.
- Push notifications: Apple execs claimed that utilizing “push notification” – which is when a communications application or connected application has new information for updating – is the most power-efficient way to handle updates be they e-mail or web content updates. ESPN also demo’d their beta apps using the beta SDK and were able to show how they would integrate the notification feature into their scores-update service. Interesting data point: ESPN sounds out 50 million alerts a month. Also, ESPN will be taking advantage 3.0’s HTTP streaming functionality for its application.
- MMS support: will enable iPhone users – if their carriers have enabled it – to take advantage of the multimedia sibling of SMS. So consumers could send pictures, video clips, audio files, contact info (iPhone supports V-card)s via MMS messages instead of e-mail.
- Spotlight search on iPhone 3.0’s home screen: In addition to some enhanced search functions within apps like mail, the iPod player and the notes application, 3.0 will come with Spotlight search to let users search all key apps by typing a key word or phrase into the new Spotlight search.