Not Quite the ‘i’ of the Publisher’s Apple

iPad + Friends - Sourced from Flickr Contributor Yutaka Tsutano (

The iPad is amazing. There is no doubting that; it has revolutionised a technological age alongside its counterpart Apple iPod/iPhone/Mac brethren. Though with every grand leap comes a tremendous drop back down to Earth. In a manner of words, Peter Kirn dispels the illusion of the iPad’s most awesome encapsulating of technology in one slim-lined computer, “Except, of course, it’s actually not” a computer. (Kirn 2010) The brilliance of the iPad comes down to one simple factor, it is completely controlled by Apple, or bluntly, it is a “closed system” inside a machine that allows for limited “flexibility”. (Johnson 2010) To provide some comparative retrospect on this issue, consider early printing systems such as block printing or the lithograph; both allowed for the open-endedness of any user of the system to publish what they wanted with the restraints being the materials they used for publication e.g. wood, cloth, ink. The overwhelming difference between the technologies (centuries apart) is that the iPad exacts the same limitations (apps, in-built cameras, internal sound recorders, etc.) although it holds the added fact that they are imposed by a corporation. What this basically boils down to is the fact that the streams of publishing that are made available on the iPad are predetermined by the software and applications that Apple makes available to the user. This is a large burden on the lightly-equipped traveller who intends on publishing photography or video footage on-the-go, limited to the applications available on their iPad given that the tablet boasts no external ports.

So, what are the major implications of these toll-booth-in-the-wall like structures Apple has built around its system? While some stress the impacts of the iPad’s release on the future sales and publishing of physical books, others have disregarded this technology completely and question the now diminished attractiveness of its competitors. Although it is daunting in some ways to consider an Orwellian future with Steve Jobs at the epicentre, as John Naughton proposed with the Amazon Kindle, it is exciting to think that Apple’s rectifying of these closed-in issues might lead to form of publishing which has never been imagined possible. To blindly attempt to summarise the needs of the publisher in 2011, modern society demands a system that is portable, user friendly, sustainable, and above all, personal; and Apple might just hold the answer to these wants.


Johnson, Joel (2010) ‘My iPad Let Me Down’, Gizmodo, March 9,

Kirn, Peter (2010) ‘How a great product can be bad news: Apple iPad and the closed Mac’, Create Digital Music, March 9, < apple-ipad-and-the-closed-mac>

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